Thursday 23 November 2017

Labour minister Ruairi Quinn insists Eamon Gilmore will 'soldier' party into election

'We will get a good result' - Quinn

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn
Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn

Niall O'Connor and Barry Duggan

EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn said Labour leader Eamon Gilmore will lead them into the next general election.

Mr Quinn said he did not anticipate a leadership contest in Labour this year amid on-going speculation that Mr Gilmore's future will be decided by the party's performance in the upcoming local and European elections.

Senior Labour figures believe the Tanaiste now has just four weeks to save his job, while several other party sources insist his leadership will be challenged if Labour receives a drubbing in next month's elections.

Mr Quinn - a former leader of the Labour party - said Mr Gilmore would lead them into the next general election irrespective of how bad the outcome is on May 24.

He said the upcoming mid-term elections were always tough for government parties.

"Eamon Gilmore as far as I am concerned will lead us into the next election," Mr Quinn said on Newstalk this morning.

"We will soldier onto the next election and we will get a good result," he added.

"When parties start to argue in public about leaders and start to have heaves against leaders, they lose votes like snow off a ditch.

"Fine Gael are the classic example. They shot themselves in the foot - not once but all toes off one foot. There has to be a public face and private face in any one organisation," Mr Quinn said.

Meanwhile Mr Gilmore has vowed to publicly canvass with Phil Prendergast after holding "very frank discussions" with the rebel MEP.

Mr Gilmore stood side-by-side with the Ireland South candidate at a Labour event last night - just three days after she humiliated her leader by calling on him to resign.

It emerged that Ms Prendergast requested a private meeting with Mr a Gilmore during which robust exchanges took place.

But despite claiming that their differences had been dealt with, the former senator last night insisted she is standing by her staunch criticism of Mr Gilmore.

Mr Gilmore now faces the extraordinary scenario of canvassing for the person who described his leadership as being “in a state of chronic inability”.

“Of course (I will canvass). As far as I'm concerned, the Labour Party selects a candidate. I stand with that candidate full square right up until polling day. We had a very frank discussion.”

Speaking before the event, Ms Prendergast said she and Mr Gilmore shook hands after their meeting.

“I met Eamon Gilmore this evening in the Tanaiste's office. We discussed and we shared our views, he already knew my views because of the announcement I made on Sunday. We had a fairly frank discussion. The focus for me from here on me and from him is getting our candidate selected, getting myself elected to Ireland South,” she said.

“We are putting what happened behind us, we shook on that and we had a cordial parting,” she added.

However asked about her call for Mr Gilmore to be replaced, Ms Prendergast replied: “I stand by what I said and I'm moving on now.”

Mr Gilmore and Ms Prendergast were speaking at a reception to welcome Labour's candidate for the European Commission to Dublin.

Martin Schultz, the President of the European Parliament, said that Irish people have endured a “rough period”.

“Generation after generation you saw your young depart to far-away-lands, than the trend was reversed in a spectacular boom, only to see recession hit hard,” he told Labour members.

“It has been a rough period. There have been many sacrifices,” he added.

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