Taoiseach shows support for troubled Labour leader Eamon Gilmore
Published 25/05/2014 | 09:52
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has demonstrated his support for beleaguered Labour leader Eamon Gilmore.
In an interview with Newstalk late last night, the Taoiseach praised Mr Gilmore for making difficult decisions.
He told interviewer John Keogh that he expected to be sitting beside the Tanaiste at next Tuesday’s cabinet meeting.
Mr Kenny made his comments as the Labour leader faces mounting speculation over his future.
It comes following the party’s dismal showing at the European and Local elections.
Support for the party fell to just 7pc – 12 points below the 19pc they enjoyed during the 2011 General Election.
“The Tanaiste will sit beside me next Tuesday at the Cabinet meeting, we’ve some very important matters to deal with.
“The tanaiste and I have a very strong working relationship. He’s the leader of his party, he’s a fundamental part of this government
“He has stepped up to the mark in making very difficult decisions about our country.
“We were given a mandate by the people and it is our intention to fulfil this mandate and they will judge us in two years’ time on that,” he said.
During the same interview, Mr Kenny got into a somewhat sharp exchange with the host John Keogh.
Mr Kenny was speaking to the broadcaster from the Longford/Westmeath by-election count.
This count saw Fine Gael’s Gabrielle McFadden, sister of the late TD Nicky McFadden, win the seat.
John Keogh attempted to ask Mr Kenny about the renewal of discretionary cards.
“I’m not getting into an argument with you on this night now,” Mr Kenny told the broadcaster.
“I said to your newscaster I would come on to your programme to talk about the by-election here and about the situation in general.
“If you want to do an interview with me some other time about the details about all these other things, I would be happy to.”
John Keogh replied: “Of course you won’t do live interviews with NewsTalk.”
“No because some of the stuff that you did in the past certainly wasn’t to my liking,” Mr Kenny said.
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“If this is your challenge now that I won’t be coming on NewsTalk, you’re wrong. I’m talking to you now.”
Earlier during the interview, Mr Kenny said he could understand the anger and frustration of voters.
And while most of the headlines have been concentrating on Labour’s electoral meltdown, Mr Kenny said Fine Gael have also suffered.
“It’s not been a good day for the people in government I have to say. Clearly we have lost a substantial number of councillors ourselves who would have served their communities well over the years
“Let me say this, we went into this government with our eyes wide open.
“The Government of Fine Gael and Labour undertook to sort out our public finances in what was the worst financial catastrophe since the foundation of this State. This was not easy and if it was easy it would have been done years ago
“So the requirements and decisions that were made are very difficult and part of that plan and part of that strategy is part of the difficulties and the challenges that so many people have and I respect the vote yesterday. I know what’s in that vote – it’s frustration and it’s anger.
“It’s loud and clear. I understand that. But believe me if you stayed static three years ago, we would be in a mess now.”
He said the sacrifices and the challenges met by the Irish people have brought them to a point where they are creating, he claimed, 1,000 jobs a week and stability has returned to the country’s economy
“But what the people want to see is how this is translated into their daily lives, in their homes every weekend and that’s the challenge of government now.”
Issues such as the renewal of discretionary medical cards, affordable housing and homelessness will be dealt with soon, he added.
Speaking to independent.ie, the Taoiseach compared Labour's electoral disappointment to that of Fianna Fail in 2004.
"I remember the time Fianna Fail back in 2004 back in the so-called boom times getting a real hammering from the people.
"Obviously for Eamon Gilmore and the Labour party, this is a very disappointing day but I would temper that by saying we went into this government with our eyes wide open. Our country was standing on the edge of an economic cliff, and the Labour party stood up and were counted here."