'My job is not up for debate'
LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore has insisted his leadership will not be up for discussion after the local and European elections.
Mr Gilmore also challenged and named left-wing opponents Richard Boyd Barrett and Joe Higgins to dissociate themselves from personalised campaigns against Labour.
He said such campaigning was part of Europe's trend towards the "politics of fear and hate". He cited as an example the barracking of Labour candidate Martina Genockey.
Mr Gilmore said the elections were not about voting in a government. He said the coalition intended to complete its five-year term to spring 2016 and continue the work of rebuilding the economy.
Launching his party's election campaigns in Dublin, the embattled Labour leader was asked directly if the party would debate the leadership after the election counts on May 24 and 25.
"No, my leadership is not up for debate. I intend to continue the work and continue the responsibility I have been given, which is to lead our country out of the crisis we find ourselves in."
He said the 190 local election candidates were campaigning to win and he never engaged in public predictions on seat numbers.
Meanwhile, he has has issued a blunt warning to by-election voters in Dublin West and Longford-Westmeath not to risk voting for opposition or independent candidates.
As the Government confirmed the two by-elections will be added to the 'Super Friday' elections on May 25, he said the Coalition was rebuilding the ruined economy they got left with when taking office in March 2011.
Mr Gilmore warned voters that they faced a stark choice on May 23.
"Do they hand the keys of the car back to the party that crashed the car in the first place, or do they hand the keys of the car to parties and to political forces that don't know how to drive in the first place?"
The Dublin West by-election was caused by the resignation of Independent and former Labour TD Patrick Nulty after controversy about texts and other messages he sent to constituents.
The Longford-Westmeath by-election follows the death last month of Fine Gael TD Nicky McFadden. Fianna Fail's Sean O Fearghaill said his party's candidates, David McGuinness and Aengus O'Rourke, offered an alternative.
And Peadar Toibin of Sinn Fein said the real unemployment rate was 22.7pc when government labour activation projects were excluded.
Independent TD Stephen Donnelly praised the independent candidate in Dublin West, David Hall, who he said championed the cause of people struggling with mortgage arrears.
Joe Higgins, of the Socialist Party, representing Dublin West, said voters should make the May 23 elections a referendum on the water tax – and a vote against the squeeze.