Prendergast refuses to back Gilmore – for a second time
MEP hopeful a long-shot to win seat
LABOUR Party MEP Phil Prendergast has again embarrassed the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore by refusing to express support for her party's leader.
Standing beside the Tanaiste at the launch of the Labour Party's election manifesto, Ms Prendergast said she stuck by her previous comments that the party needs new leadership.
Three weeks ago, Ms Prendergast told the Irish Independent the Tanaiste should consider his position as Labour Party leader ahead of the local and European elections.
"We are getting hammered on the doorsteps and yet Eamon Gilmore adopts a low-profile approach. It is the inertia of this present leadership that will be the nail in our coffin," she said.
When Mr Gilmore was asked if Ms Prendergast still had his support, he said all Labour candidates had his and the party's backing.
However, when Ms Prendergast was asked if she still held the same view about the party leader, she said: "I stand by what I said.
"I think there is an opportunity to get our message out more effectively," she added.
She highlighted the ongoing controversy surrounding the removal of discretionary medical cards for elderly and sick people as one of her reasons for calling for a new leader.
"Those are issues that people need help with and there should be a red circling of people with medical conditions or medical needs that should go beyond someone receiving a letter saying 'we are taking away your medical card'," she said.
"I see the work councillors are doing up and down the length of the 10 counties I have been involved with that have done such hard work. I would hate to see that hard work not reflected in them getting elected come tomorrow week," she added.
Mr Gilmore said that the medical card issue needed to be addressed by the Government.
Ms Prendergast would not rule out moving on the party leader should she get elected.
This is the second time she has embarrassed him ahead of the crunch European and local elections next week.
In what many saw as an opportunistic move, Ms Prendergast condemned the party leader when an Irish Independent poll suggested she would not get elected.
The party is unlikely to return a MEP in any of the European constituencies but Mr Gilmore yesterday said Labour had the best candidates in the race.
While Mr Gilmore refused to criticise Ms Prendergast, he did condemn local election candidates from parties which used the local authority planning system to "make a few euro".