Gilmore throws hat in the ring for €250k EU Commissioner job
OUTGOING Tanaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has publicly expressed an interest in becoming Ireland's next EU Commissioner.
In the wake of his resignation, Mr Gilmore looks increasingly likely to be the Government's choice to succeed Maire Geoghegan Quinn for the €250,000-a-year post after he leaves Cabinet in early July.
He said that if Taoiseach Enda Kenny were to ask him to be the next European Commissioner, he "would think about it".
"It is not an issue of being a candidate, there is not an election or anything like that. It is for the Taoiseach to make the nomination. If the Taoiseach asks me then I would have to think about it. But it is a long commute from Shankill to Brussels," he said yesterday.
Mr Gilmore said that given a contest to succeed him was likely, he would essentially be "working out my notice" until July 4, when the ballot to decide the new Labour leader closes.
"I will be in the office until July 4. My immediate priority is to concentrate on matters relating to Northern Ireland. I am serving out my notice," he said.
Environment Minister Phil Hogan had been the perceived frontrunner for the post but it's thought he'll be required closer to home. Last night several FG sources said he is now less likely to be going to Europe.
"All the chat is he is not going with all that is going on. His body language is saying the same thing too and nobody in Fine Gael wants to lose another by-election," said one senior Fine Gael source.
Mr Gilmore's "strong track record" in Foreign Affairs and Trade is seen as a major plus in terms of his candidacy for the role, as is his role in restoring the country's reputation abroad since 2011.
Meanwhile, given Fine Gael's poor showing in the local elections, Mr Kenny is believed to be thinking Mr Hogan is more valuable to him at home.
Fine Gael faces its own struggle to rebuild voter trust after its poor election showing.
It has been overtaken by a resurgent Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein in many local authority areas.
Before his resignation, Mr Gilmore had rubbished suggestions that he would accept the €250,000-a-year European job. But that was when he believed he would lead the Labour Party into the next general election.
However, following Labour's disastrous showing in the polls last weekend, with just 51 council seats countrywide, the situation has changed dramatically and Mr Gilmore's comments yesterday were seen as significant.
The term of office for EU Commissioners expires at the end of October, but the appointment is to be announced well in advance of that date.