Eamon Gilmore resigns as leader of Labour Party
Published 26/05/2014 | 13:15
EAMON Gilmore has warned against the Labour pulling out of government following his dramatic decision to resign as party leader.
Mr Gilmore said he "agonised" over the decision to step down which was made just hours before eight members of the Labour Parliamentary party tabled a vote of no confidence.
A new Labour leader will be put in place on July 4 following a postal ballot of all party members.
Mr Gilmore became emotional as he announced his decision at 4:10pm this afternoon, flanked by his entire front bench including Deputy leader Joan Burton.
“At 10.30am this morning I informed the General Secretary of the Labour Party I intended to stand down as leader of the Labour party”, he said.
“I’ve had the honour and privilege to lead the Labour party for seven years.
“I asked party to take on responsibility of government. I believed as citizens and a party we had a responsibility to put the country first.
“I still believe that was the right the decision, and I’m proud of the progress we have made.”
He said he made the decision last night to step down in consultation with his family.
He also added he intended to contest the next General Election.
“It was a course which carried a high political risk”, he said, adding Labour had paid the price in the local and European elections.
“The party, and the government, must move on.
“We must, and we will, continue to put the country and the needs of the people first.
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“There is more to do, and I intend to be part of it.”
However he added that the work to rebuild the party is best left to new leadership.
He refused to endorse any candidate to replace him.
The decision was announced just hours after seven TDs and one senator expressed a vote of no confidence in Mr Gilmore.
Labour is reeling after one of its most disastrous mid term elections its history, which saw the party lose dozens of council seats and return no MEPs.
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Mr Gilmore said he is proud of the decision to enter government "during the worst economic crisis in the history of the State".
"I still believe that was the right decision, and I am proud of the progress we have made in achieving those objectives.
But it was a course which carried a high political risk, and Labour has paid the price for that in the local and European elections. I deeply regret the loss of good public representatives and the defeat of outstanding Labour candidates last Friday."
Mr Gilmore said the new leader must ensure the party takes on a new course of renewal.
He said he made his decision to step down last night and formerly alerted Labour general secretary Ita McAuliffe at 10:30am.
The Dun Laoghaire TD said he still intends to contest the next general election and indicated that he may remain a cabinet member in the imminent reshuffle.
Mr Gilmore warned against Labour pulling out of government which he said would be "irresponsible".
"I've heard that the Tanaiste is making a statement at four o'clock," Taoiseach Enda Kenny said this afternoon.
"I do not know what is in the statement. I've just tried to ring him, I can't get through."
Mr Gilmore's position had been looking increasingly untenable as the party reels from its electoral bloodbath.
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The motion was tabled by TDs Ciara Conway, Dominic Hannigan, Michael McNamara, Ged Nash, Derek Nolan, Aodhan O Riordan and Arthur Spring, as well as senator John Gilroy.
The motion reads: "The Parliamentary Labour Party does not retain confidence in the party leader."
Mr Gilmore had also faced the prospect of being removed as party leader by the influential Central Council.
Earlier, speaking to RTE's Sean O'Rourke, outgoing MEP Phil Prendergast said Mr Gilmore "should name a date" to leave.
"He should give a date and that should be a part of where we move on from here
"I do mean an early date. I think the party has serious decisions and serious analysis to do and we need to meet what we heard," she told the broadcaster.
Ms Prendergast said the party must carry out a "review of the promises that couldn’t be kept and that’s a real issue for reflection".
"It’s not a kneejerk reaction to call for that sort of forensic analysis.
"People don’t like being lied to," she said.
"We did a hundred day campaign and it was every day, everyone said about the medical card issue, everyone said about the water charges, an awful lot of people talking about the ‘Every Little Hurts’ campaign.
"Nobody spoke about European issues really."
The 'Every Little Hurts' campaign was run by the party prior to the 2011 General Election.
In this campaign, the party claimed they would stop water charges, and made other promises to not increase motor tax and university fees.
Ms Prendergast's comments came after Senator John Whelan told RTE's Morning Ireland programme that Mr Gilmore's future as party leader had to be on the agenda for the party.
Arthur Spring and Michael McNamara have also spoken out against Mr Gilmore.