One of Gilmore’s closest aides resigns from Labour Party
Former TD Derek McDowell plans to direct Alex White’s leadership campaign
One of Eamon Gilmore’s closest aides has resigned from the Labour Party to head up Alex White’s leadership bid.
Former TD Derek McDowell made the surprise as the party announced that five hustings across the country will be held for the leadership contest.
Mr McDowell, who lost his seat in Dublin North Central in 2002, has served as an advisor to Mr Gilmore and the Labour Party.
He announced today that he has resigned his staff position with the party “so as to direct Alex White’s campaign for the Labour leadership”.
The announcement was made as the party confirmed that five individual hustings will take place across the country.
Mr White and his only rival for the leadership, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, will hold debates in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Galway and Portlaoise.
The first husting will take place in Dublin on Monday.
Earlier today, independent.ie reported that Mr White refused to rule out a coalition with Sinn Fein after the next General Election.
He said that many of the parties of the left are protest parties, and not parties of government.
“I believe the only way the Labour party can bring about a fairer society is in government.
“I believe the problems with a lot of the party’s to our left is that they’ve set themselves against going into government.”
He Dublin South TD said that the numbers would determine the formation of the next government:
“It’s about numbers in the Dail when the Dial sits for the first time.”
He made the comments on Newstalk Breakfast this morning.
He also denied suggestions that he was disloyal to Eamon Gilmore.
“I have huge gratitude, respect and admiration for [him].
“I think everyone agreed there needed to be a change at the top, and to his great credit he decided there needed to be a change.”
He also disputed that Eamon Gilmore’s portfolio as Minister for Foreign Affairs saw him alienated from voters.
“I’ve never really agreed with people who said the Tanaiste shouldn’t have been Minister for Foreign Affairs.
“It’s been a massive job for Ireland that Eamon Gilmore has done. I don’t think we should downplay it”, he said.
While he admitted he would like to be Minister for Health, he admitted he worked embattled Minister James Reilly – however refused to outright support the embattled Minister.
“I’ve worked very well with James Reilly. He is a decent man with good instincts”, he said.
It is expected Alex White and Joan Burton will be the only candidates when the Labour leadership nominations close today,