We will not put Fianna Fail back into government, Gilmore vows
Published 19/04/2010 | 05:00
LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore has categorically ruled out any future coalition with Fianna Fail.
Mr Gilmore -- while sitting on the fence over the new public sector pay deal -- was at last crystal clear about his stance on any future coalition with Fianna Fail.
The Labour leader said he would not put Fianna Fail back into government -- even if he was offered the job of Taoiseach.
Mr Gilmore, who had previously failed to rule out coalition with Fianna Fail, said: "No, we've made it clear that Fianna Fail has to be put into opposition after the next election. They have made a mess of this country.
"We're determined that they are going to be put out of government. . . the Labour Party will not put Fianna Fail back into government."
Mr Gilmore is ruling out going into government with Fianna Fail -- even rejecting their support if he was Taoiseach. But he appears to be open to coalition with Fine Gael or the Greens.
He said the party would run enough candidates at the next general election "to enable the Irish people to make Labour the largest party in the next Dail, and to lead the government".
Fianna Fail did not own the country and "does not have a monopoly" on running it, he said.
"At the end of the day, a country is not a government, or a political party, or a church, or a bank or any other institution. A country is its people. Its people and the values they hold to. It is time to take back our country and to get rid of Fianna Fail," he said.
He claimed that Labour would liberate Ireland "from the treachery of the insiders who have squandered our prosperity, wasted our opportunities and put our futures at risk".
While Mr Gilmore was decisive on the issue of going into coalition, the contentious public sector pay deal was the elephant in the room at the three-day conference.
TDs and senators repeatedly avoided making direct reference to it in their speeches.
Seven union executives have now rejected the deal negotiated by senior union chiefs -- leaving the traditionally pro-union Labour Party in a tricky position.
The party is trying to keep union leaders and angry workers onside until the outcome of voting is known.
Labour Party members voted at the conference to start "actively campaigning" for a reversal of pay cuts imposed in last year's Budget. But their leader yesterday refused to say if he would begin such a campaign.
"Well, as you know, the Labour Party opposed the pay cuts when they took place," he said yesterday at the end of the conference at the National University of Ireland in Galway.
"I have said that I believe any restoration of the pay cuts must be done by way of negotiation and by way of an agreement."
And he kicked for touch yet again on the pay deal -- saying politicians should "butt out" while unions balloted the issue.
"There is a ballot under way, as you know, on the proposed agreement, so I think we have to wait and see how that ballot works out first of all. The issue of restoring pay is something that has to be the subject of negotiation," Mr Gilmore said.
The Labour leader denied his position as a national political leader was undermined by not taking a position on the deal.
But that stance has prompted claims from Fianna Fail that Mr Gilmore is attempting to be "all things to all people".