PAT RABBITTE has backed the Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore and urged the party to hold its nerve in the face of disappointing poll results.
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources admitted that the results of the IPSOS\mrbi poll which saw the party at just 6pc were "disappointing", however, he insisted that Mr Gilmore should continue as leader.
"Of course it concerns me but polls come and polls go, the average over 26 polls this year is 10pc. 81pc of the people didn't vote for the Labour Party in the last general election but 100pc of the people almost seem to think we should take exclusive responsibility for the pace of recovery," he said.
"I found it hard to believe that the people will punish the party that will bring about economic recovery and reward the party that caused the economic collapse," he added.
He also quoted Shakespeare in his defence of Mr Gilmore, stating; "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown."
"Eamon Gilmore has been the most effective leader of the Labour Party in it's history. He brought back more seats in the general election than any Labour Party leader in 100 years of the party's existence. He won a by-election since then, he won a Presidential election since then. He's the best person with a steady hand on the tillar to help in the coalition government arrangement of two parties to lead this country back to economic recovery," he said.
However, Mr Rabbitte would not be drawn on whether the party leader should give up his post as Minister for Foreign Affairs to focus on issues at home, insisting; "That's entirely a matter for him."
Speaking at the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) conference in Galway this morning, the Minister refused to be drawn on the latest controversy to hit the party when four Labour Senators failed to turn up for a Seanad vote, causing the Government to lose.
"I don't know anything about that to be honest," he said.
Mr Rabbitte said the party had inherited an economy that was "shipwrecked".
"To be honest the challenge facing this Government was when we came to office this country in terms of it's economic prospects were shipwrecked by the previous administration and in the first half of the lifetime of the Government we have managed to pull the country back from the brink and the challenge for the second half is to built on that stability and put people back to work. Now it is encouraging that in the 12 months to the last quarter 33,800 additional people are at work, that's encouraging, but it's not enough," he said.
"We have to maintain that rate because unemployment is unconscionably high," he added.