Eamon Gilmore: Rebel MEP Phil Prendergast is a serious candidate
EAMON Gilmore has insisted that rebel MEP Phil Prendergast should be "taken most seriously" in the European elections – a week after she called on him to be replaced as Labour leader.
The Tanaiste was responding to a new opinion poll which shows the Ireland South candidate is in with a fighting chance of holding on to her seat following this month's poll.
The Red C/'Sunday Business Post' poll was carried out after Ms Prendergast stunned party colleagues by calling for Mr Gilmore to resign prior to the local and European elections.
It shows Ms Prendergast on 9pc and in fourth position in the four-seat constituency.
The poll suggests that her decision to publicly call for Mr Gilmore's resignation has benefited her electorally.
Her intervention infuriated the Labour leader, who held "frank discussions" with Ms Prendergast in his office in Dublin last Tuesday night.
There were further tensions within the party later in the week after junior minister Sean Sherlock said that voters can't take Ms Prendergast "seriously".
"How could you take anybody seriously as a candidate after that?" he remarked.
But speaking at the campaign launch of Labour's Dublin candidate, Emer Costello MEP, Mr Gilmore said that Ms Prendergast should be "taken most seriously".
"She can be taken most seriously. As the Labour Party candidate in Ireland South, she has our full support to win that election," he added.
According to the latest poll, Fianna Fail MEP Brian Crowley (28pc) and Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly (18pc) appear set to take a seat in Ireland South. Mr Kelly's performance has significantly improved following the Millward Brown poll in this newspaper which showed him at risk of losing his seat.
A dogfight is on the cards for the remaining two seats. Sinn Fein's Liadh Ni Riada is polling well on 14pc, followed by Ms Prendergast (9pc), Fine Gael's Deirdre Clune (8pc) and her party colleague Simon Harris (7pc).