Gilmore defends decision not to hold contest for leadership
Published 22/05/2016 | 02:30
Former Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore yesterday defended the decision not to hold a contest for the leadership.
Speaking to Claire Byrne on RTE Radio One, he also claimed some of the resulting coverage had been 'unfair'.
"I spoke to Alan Kelly and he is someone for whom I have enormous respect. He is a very strong, energetic politician," said the former leader.
"I can understand he is disappointed at not having a contest but he will work with Brendan to rebuild the Labour Party. I know that they talked about this yesterday."
"What members should do now is roll up their sleeves and help Brendan in the task of rebuilding the party."
Gilmore defended the party's decision not to bring the vote to the Labour membership as constitutional, explaining 'timing' was also a factor in the decision.
He said that while it might have been possible in the immediate aftermath of the General Election, "the difficulty now is it's the end of May, you have a contest that will take until the end of June, then it will be July and the holiday season, so it would be September before a new leader would really be able to get going on what is now an urgent task - the priority is the rebuilding of the party."
He described new party leader Brendan Howlin as a 'unifying figure', who 'is the one person who can bring membership round to support what he is doing and to unify the party.
"He will work to get the best out of every member of the team and have everybody pulling in the same direction," he said.