'Gang of eight' faces backlash for shafting Tanaiste
Published 27/05/2014 | 02:30
Labour's so-called gang of eight are facing a backlash over the manner in which they moved on their former leader, Eamon Gilmore.
The group of seven TDs and one senator lodged a motion of no confidence yesterday morning in a surprise bid to oust him from power.
Mr Gilmore was taken aback by some of the TDs who put their names to the no confidence motion, particularly Galway West TD Derek Nolan and Louth TD Ged Nash. There was also surprise that first-time deputies Ciara Conway and Aodhan O Riordain backed the call for the leader to go.
TDs Arthur Spring, Michael McNamara and Dominic Hannigan and Senator John Gilroy also signed the motion.
Senior sources say Mr Gilmore had promotions in sight for a number of the TDs and that he was shocked to learn of their vote of no confidence at 11am yesterday.
The move has sparked a furious response from some members of the party who insist the gang of eight should have held fire until Mr Gilmore addressed the Parliamentary Party tomorrow.
Labour whip Emmet Stagg told the Irish Independent that he "got wind" of a potential heave on Saturday and warned that the group's move was "premature".
"I wish they had given the party leader some space after the election but instead they went ahead and moved on someone who is a very honourable man," Mr Stagg said.
"I got wind on the weekend that the pot was boiling, per se. I contacted a number of people who I believed were involved and advised them against such a move."
Dublin South East TD Kevin Humphreys said such a motion "is not the way Labour does business".
"I'm disappointed with what they did. Eamon Gilmore should have been given the time to discuss this further with his family and staff, many of whom are tied to him as Tanaiste and party leader," he told the Irish Independent.
Senior party sources, meanwhile, went further in their criticism of the group, who they said "panicked" and have "shafted a decent man" in Eamon Gilmore.
"They are a bunch of green- horns who panicked. They fear they will lose their seats and put fear of that ahead of the party," said one senior figure.
Another senior source added: "We were nursing a poor election defeat but what these lads have done is so damaging to the party in terms of morale and ensuring there is a sense of trust."
However, members of the group privately insisted that their stance had the support of at least five other members of the parliamentary party.
They said the air of discontent stemmed from the disastrous result at the Meath East by-election, where Labour was beaten into fifth.
"This was the culmination of the discussion about our issues with the leadership, not the beginning. We moved in the interest of saving our party," one of the members said.