Saturday 7 December 2019

Gilmore vows: I’ll face down the Labour dissidents

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has vowed to face down Labour rebels and lead the party into the next general election.

After breaking a series of Labour's pre-election promises in the Budget, Mr Gil-more also defended his party's record.

"The big pledge that we made was we were going to solve the economic crisis," he said.

Mr Gilmore is frosty about the prospect of a return of Labour dissidents to the parliamentary party, saying he does "insist on discipline".

But he warmly welcomed the expected return of former junior minister Willie Penrose to the fold.

Dissatisfaction

Another former junior minister, Roisin Shortall, has warned that a heave against Mr Gilmore cannot be ruled out due to "dissatisfaction" within Labour.

Amid ongoing internal rows in the wake of the Budget, Mr Gilmore confidently told the Irish Independent he would lead Labour into the next general election.

"Absolutely," he said.

However, he did not hold out much hope for the return of the group of dissidents who have left the party



"The rules of the Labour Party are clear: when somebody joins the Opposition and votes against the Government, they lose the party whip. They all know the rules," he said.

"I saw that Willie Penrose has indicated he intends to apply for readmission to the parliamentary party. That is something I would welcome.

"Nobody else has indicated that. I am not a vindictive person, but I insist on discipline, and Labour is in Government to do a job of work – it can't operate like Lanigan's Ball."

Mr Gilmore did not accept that he should have regrets about making a series of high-profile promises before the general election which were broken in Budget 2013.

"The big pledge that we made was we were going to solve the economic crisis. We are determined to do that. That is what the Labour Party is in government to do. It's a critical moment in our history," he said.

"That requires absolute concentration on it, absolute determination to do it, if you like a steeliness to not be deflected from it.

"It is by doing that that we deliver the services and the payments and so on.

"I don't dispute at all – never did – that the Budget we had to introduce this year was difficult and challenging, but it was necessary and we had to have the political will and the courage to see it through."

The Tanaiste was coy about a Cabinet reshuffle happening this year, simply saying he did not want to speculate about it and that there were "no immediate plans" for changes.

He did not rule out a move himself from the Foreign Affairs portfolio, and agreed he would be able to pick his own post.

"I'd have a say in that all right," he joked.

Mr Gilmore said he was not preoccupied by Labour's internal rows.

"My concentration is on dealing with the problems people are facing in this country," he said. "Whether they have a job, whether they are able to pay the mortgage, how they are going to be able to get through this. That is the job I have been given to do.

Worries

"Frankly, I think that people who have very real worries about their own income and their own job situation and own business situation . . . I think they have a pretty low level of tolerance and wouldn't thank me for being engaged in some kind of an internal spat in the Labour Party."

Ms Shortall warned that a move against Mr Gilmore cannot be ruled out.

In an interview with the 'Dublin People' newspaper last week, she said there was a very strong desire to see change in Labour.

"I am aware of a lot of dissatisfaction from within the party, but we haven't got to the point of a heave just yet. I'm not ruling anything out. Anything's possible at this stage," she said.

Irish Independent

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