News Politics

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Joan Burton: 'Eamon Gilmore is well qualified for Irish EU Commissioner post'

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Published 04/07/2014 | 18:19

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Newly elected Labour Leader, Joan Burton with outgoing leader, Eamon Gilmore at the Mansion House, Dublin this evening after she was announced as new leader. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Newly elected Labour Leader, Joan Burton with outgoing leader, Eamon Gilmore at the Mansion House, Dublin this evening after she was announced as new leader. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

LABOUR leader Joan Burton has said her predecessor Eamon Gilmore is "eminently well qualified" for Ireland's EU Commissioner post.

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The coveted position will be part of robust negotiations between the new Tanaiste and Taoiseach Enda Kenny when the pair meet in government buildings on Monday morning.

In a clear signal that Labour is prepared to fight for the €250,000-a-year post, Ms Burton insisted that Mr Gilmore would make an ideal candidate.

She refused to accept Fine Gael's claims that the job will go to Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

Ms Burton was speaking after being formally unveiled as the new leader of the Labour Party.

The Dublin West TD today romped home in the leadership contest as three out of four labour members supported her bid.

She secured 75.5pc of the vote and comfortably defeated her only challenger Alex White.

In the deputy leadership contest, Tipperary TD Alan Kelly was comfortably elected.

Meanwhile, Ms Burton immediately set out her stall by insisting on the need for a 'Low Pay Commission' to examine whether the minimum wage should be increased.

She indicated that wage changes will form part of a "renewed set of policy priorities" which she will present to the Taoiseach on Monday.

"I will strongly make the case for a Low Pay Commission - an independent body to advise on the appropriate level of the Minimum Wage and related matters," she said after her election.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny released a statement last night congratulating Ms Burton on her election.

"I look forward to working closely with the Tánaiste and her colleagues in the Labour Party as we build on the solid foundations that have been put in place by the Government in the past three years," he said.

"We will meet early next week to discuss the Government’s key priorities for the coming period, and changes in the composition of the Government." he added.

The make-up of the new cabinet will be discussed by the Taoiseach and Tanaiste at their first formal meeting since Ms Burton's election.

Mr Kelly is certain to be handed a cabinet role after being elected deputy leader.

However, Ms Burton said she has made "no commitment" to any of her party colleagues regarding a place at cabinet.

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