Don't call me a spoofer -- Gilmore hits back at FF
'You want policies? You got policies'
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has scornfully rejected claims by Fianna Fail that he is a "spoofer" who has no vision or plans to rescue the economy.
The Labour leader's increasing popularity -- particularly in Dublin where the Labour Party looks poised to end the political careers of senior Fianna Fail figures such as Mary Hanafin, Pat Carey, Sean Haughey and Conor Lenihan -- has been the catalyst for a series of sharp political attacks on Mr Gilmore.
Fianna Fail minister Martin Mansergh, whose seat is under threat from Labour's Phil Prendergast, recently made a speech about Mr Gilmore's links to the old Workers Party when they were "fraternal mendicants of the Soviet and North Korean communist parties ... until the collapse of the Berlin wall and the Soviet bloc".
Mr Gilmore left the Workers Party two decades ago.
Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe also recently compared the Labour leader to a "ditch-hugger".
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr Gilmore, however, appeared to be amused rather than unnerved by the offensive.
When asked if the "spoofer" attacks had merit, he smiled and said: "Am I a spoofer? No, I am not."
He added that the allegation "is Fianna Fail's way of having a go at me. That's just politics, that's the line. It's their political game".
The Labour leader said: "They will accuse me of engaging in rhetoric but all I can show is that over the last two years we were right and they were wrong."
A Red C poll in last week's Irish Sun revealed that Mr Gilmore continues to be the favourite choice among Irish voters for the Taoiseach's job.
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Some 33 per cent of those polled said the Labour leader was the best man for the job.
In contrast, Brian Cowen secured the support of just 18 per cent of the electorate while 27 per cent believed Enda Kenny should get the job.
Mr Gilmore said that, at the time of the banking collapse, "we said about Anglo and Irish Nationwide we were not being told the full story.
"We said at the time that dated subordinated debt should not have been included and the governor of the Central Bank agrees with us now and we opposed the banking guarantee because it would cost the State billions."
The Labour leader also dismissed Fianna Fail claims that Labour is a policy-free party. Mr Gilmore said that when it came to policy Labour was like "the famous 'you want ice, you got ice' ad".
Mr Gilmore said that as of now "consumer confidence is gone because people are nervous about their future. They are saving not spending".
The Labour leader added that "a Government that's been around the track three times" was not going to generate the "sense of optimism, the confidence, that gets people to spend".
He also noted of the current unemployment crisis that "the day you lose your job should be your first day getting back into work".
And he slammed the slow response to upskilling newly unemployed individuals with the observation that "people should not have to serve their time on the dole before getting a chance to get back into employment".
The Labour leader also said of the ongoing troubles being experienced by the retail industry that "it was time to stop choking retailers with rents dating back to 2006".