Wednesday 25 April 2018

How leader's standing was chipped away

Alan O'Keeffe

On Friday, February 25, 2011, Eamon Gilmore's Labour charges swept the boards in their best-ever General Election.

In politics, the 1,185 intervening days until he resigned as party leader yesterday sounds like a long time.

But in reality, the slippery slope to failure had started even before he became Tanaiste.

After all, Mr Gilmore had hoped after the general election he would be Taoiseach – or at least that's what the posters said.

Here are some of the key moments that led to Eamon Gilmore's demise:

* Pre-election Labour launched an 'Every Little Hurts' campaign targeting Fine Gael. It came back to haunt the party in Government.

* The 'Gilmore for Taoiseach' posters became little more than a joke as polling day neared in 2011.

* Despite having a new batch of young TDs, his cabinet selection included two former party leaders and the long-serving Brendan Howlin and Joan Burton.

* The resignation of junior health minister Roisin Shortall seriously damaged his standing with Labour's grassroots as he refused to support her in her criticism of Health Minister James Reilly.

* He was forced to swallow his campaign declaration of 'Frankfurt's way or Labour's way' as he and his colleagues capitulated to pressure not to burn the bank debt bondholders.

* Colm Keaveney (below) quit as Party chairman in June 2013.

* The Government's 'hairshirt' Budgets increased the ire of the anti-austerity campaigners.

* His decision to close the Irish Embassy at the Vatican was viewed negatively by a significant number of Irish churchgoers.

* He endured sharp criticism from within Labour for being "out of touch" with events in Ireland amid calls for him to relinquish his globetrotting foreign affairs role.

* The Government's introduction of a property tax was seen as a betrayal of his party's election promises.

* Similarly, the imposition of water charges by the Coalition Government undermined his party's natural support base.

* He was continually criticised for not being assertive enough in protecting Labour policies in government.

* Mr Gilmore's strong backing of unpopular Justice Minister Alan Shatter (below) continued even after the controversial Fine Gael politician had decided to resign.

* Labour's dismal election performance this weekend left him with little option as the overlooked young guns started to draw up plans for a heave.

Irish Independent

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