TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has insisted he is happy staying at the Department of Foreign Affairs despite Labour politicians pressing him to transfer to a domestic economic ministry.
Mr Gilmore turned on critics who blamed his overseas ministerial work as being a factor in the Labour Party's plummeting poll fortunes and the decision by over 28 elected officials to quit.
His comments came as he urged Labour members to show "courage" and stick with the party as the Coalition tackles Ireland's economic woes.
In a rebuff to Labour Party critics who want him to immediately transfer into a domestic economic ministry, he warned that he was "very happy with what I am doing".
"What I am doing is central to this country's economic recovery...lets be clear about this. We have had a job of work to do. When we went into Government two and half years ago we were referred to as one of the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain). Our standing in the world was in tatters...our reputation was ruined."
"We had to restore that and that was primarily my job as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I am very glad we have restored it."
Last month, Mr Gilmore faced pressure at a Labour parliamentary party meeting to spend more time in Ireland to address the opinion poll woes.
The meeting was marked by repeated concerns over plunging opinion poll ratings.
"The Department of Foreign Affairs is a domestic ministry. The job of work that we have had to do over the course of the last two and a half years has been to rebuild the country's reputation," Mr Gilmore said.
"I reject entirely any suggestion that it is not a domestic issue or it is not related to the success of the economy."
"Unless we did that we would not be in a position to renegotiate the terms of our (EU/IMF) bail out. We would not now be exiting the programme and we would not now be attracting the degree of foreign direct investment that we are."
"This is an exporting economy...we export over 80pc of everything we produce. We are more dependent on the outside world that any similar sized economy in Europe."
"The role of Minister for Foreign Affairs in that situation is critical and it is central to it. In the lifetime of this Government, in the lifetime of any Government, it is normal that there is some changes in the composition and positions of members of the Cabinet."
"It is something that the Taoiseach and I will address in due course. It is something I will address."
Mr Gilmore admitted that, like any party leader, he would prefer to see Labour doing better in the opinion polls.
He also admitted he was disappointed to see the party losing elected members with 28 councillors, senators and MEPs having departed over the past two years.
"Opinion polls this distance from a general election don't predict the outcome. Look at the opinion polls a week before the Presidential election. Look at the outcome and compare them."
"That said there isnt a politician in the country that wouldn't prefer polls to be always going up.
He urged Labour politicians to "show courage" as the Coalition turns Ireland's economic fortunes around.
"The vast majority of the public representatives of the Labour Party show great courage and great determination to get this country out of the mess we inherited."
"I am praising those members that are sticking with the Labour Party. They are showing courage and determination at a very difficult time. But the vast majority of members are determined to stick with it."
"I would rather not lose anyone...but we have had a difficult job to do and will continue to do it."