CONCERN is growing in Labour over the refusal of embattled leader Eamon Gilmore to confirm he will demand a transfer from the Department of Foreign Affairs to a domestic brief.
One of the key Labour explanations for their increasingly cataclysmic poll showings is that Mr Gilmore's role in Foreign Affairs has diluted his impact at home.
The issue came to a head at last week's Parliamentary Party meeting where the respected parliamentary party Chairman, Jack Wall and other TDs asked would Gilmore switch ministries.
One source noted: "The question was repeatedly put, when are you going to quit, and he did not answer with any clarity, he ducked it, he dived, he evaded it."
A second source added: "Wall and others were very persistent – he said we need an answer, are you leaving Foreign Affairs, are you coming home, the membership want an answer''.
The struggling Labour leader instead responded to internal unease by going on the attack.
One source told the Sunday Independent: "Gilmore engaged in an extraordinary speech where he said 'anyone who is going to write crap about me or go kissing journalists' asses will get a whack, they will be fair game'.
"Gilmore made it clear 'if you want me out, you will have to take me out, there will be blood on the floor if you come after me''
The Labour leader was particularly angered by the internal party furore about the absence of a Labour stand at the Ploughing Championships.
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In the PLP, the Labour leader spent some time defending his position.
One source noted: "He launched into a big discussion about his trip to Manhattan and how he met the Australian Labour leader Kevin Rudd, how he said to him, 'you put the country first and lost the election. But there is no way the Irish electorate are going to punish Labour for doing the right thing'."
They added: "Mario Rosenstock couldn't have scripted it better. Gilmore all purple in the face and shouting about walking down New York and all the big nobs he met''.
Labour Senator John Whelan told the Sunday Independent he was "astonished in a week where Vincent de Paul published harrowing reports over what ordinary people are experiencing, the only thing concerning Eamon Gilmore is to chastise me for saying Labour should be more closely connected with rural Ireland''. Mr Whelan also warned that the Labour leader should note "the result in the 'Irish Times' poll is entirely consistent with the vote Labour secured in Meath East, this is not an aberration''.
The Tanaiste was, however, strongly defended by his former Democratic Left colleague Mr Pat Rabbitte who slammed the ongoing complaints over broken promises. One source said "Rabbitte told them straight there would be ten of you (Labour TDs) who would not be here'' were it not for the much-criticised Every Little Hurts campaign.
Mr Rabbitte is also believed to have "laid into'' the rebellious Labour senators with the cutting observation of "we have senators here and party members don't even know the names of half of them'.
The mood within the party was summarised by one source who noted: "it's like a puppet show. The Democratic Left Ministers are all fighting for each-other, and you have all the baby Ministers sitting in the front row smiling and hoping to be promoted''.
They added: "Look at them, Gilmore, Rabbitte, Sherlock, Lynch, White – there's hardly a single Labour Minister in cabinet; the DL will fight to keep their man on top until there's blood running across the floor''.