Taoiseach moves to ease fears on stability of Coalition
Published 27/05/2014 | 02:30
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has tried to steady the Government by insisting Labour will stay with the Coalition and it will complete its full term up to spring 2016.
Mr Kenny's statement followed the announcement of Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore that he will quit as party leader with effect from July 4 next.
The notice of resignation heralds a five-week period of government stalemate with an ongoing lingering question mark also over the Coalition's future stability.
Moves to do a significant Cabinet reshuffle, involving both Fine Gael and Labour ministers, and inter-party talks on a new set of coalition priorities must be put on hold until after the Labour leadership election.
All of this suggests a de facto "lame-duck" government could be left in-situ until at least the middle of July.
As Fine Gael strategists began an inquest into significant local election reverses, news broke of moves against the leadership of Mr Gilmore by Labour TDs and senators.
This in turn was followed by the resignation announcement by Mr Gilmore, who said he would remain as interim party leader and also continue as Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs until a new party leader was chosen.
The now imminent Cabinet reshuffle will also draw focus on Fine Gael ministers with speculation already gathering around Health Minister James Reilly.
Dr Reilly has proven hugely unpopular but has been extremely loyal to the Taoiseach.
The new Labour leader will have to decide how to freshen up their Cabinet offering with Pat Rabbitte and Ruairi Quinn expected to be in the firing line.
Last night the Taoiseach sought to reassure people that all these developments did not raise questions about government stability and insisted that he had been given assurances by Mr Gilmore that Labour would continue in Coalition.
"He has assured me that the Labour Party remains fully committed to providing stable government, and to the completion of our mandate to fix our public finances and to create jobs for our people," Mr Kenny said.
The Labour Party's general secretary Ita McAuliffe also moved to have an election for party leader and deputy leader as quickly as possible.
Nominations were immediately formally opened yesterday and will close at noon on Tuesday next, June 3. The arrangements for an election in which all the party's estimated 5,000 members, who must have been registered for at least 18 months, will participate.
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