Alan Kelly has announced that he is resigning as Labour leader after less than two years in the role, saying the parliamentary party had lost collective confidence in his leadership.

Mr Kelly said the party had a number of frank discussions in recent weeks, particularly this week.

It is understood that Mr Kelly was approached yesterday by three members of the parliamentary party to tell him the party had lost confidence in him.

They were Dublin Fingal TD Duncan Smith, Cork East TD Seán Sherlock and Senator Mark Wall.

In a statement at Leinster House this evening, an emotional Mr Kelly said he was informed of his colleagues' feelings yesterday, but it still came as a surprise to him.

He said he regretted that the party had not been able to make progress in the polls and did not get a bounce over the past two years.

Mr Kelly said the pandemic had restricted his ability to put forward his politics and that it had been hard for the party to move on from its period in government from 2011 to 2016.

He said he would continue as a TD for Tipperary, contesting the next election, and stay on in his role until a new leader is appointed.

Mr Kelly became Labour leader in April 2020 following the general election earlier that year, beating Aodhán O Ríordáin in the race to succeed Brendan Howlin.

He said he has been involved with the party for as long as he can remember. "I will always support the Labour party," he said.

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Mr Kelly paid tribute to his family and was joined by his wife Regina and two children.

He told reporters that it was hard to get momentum as a party leader during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We didn't do populism, I despise populism," he told reporters.

He said that he felt disappointed to be stepping down and would have liked to have contested the election as party leader.

Mr Kelly said that he had to accept the decision of his parliamentary colleagues.

Additional reporting Mícheál Lehane