Tuesday 21 November 2017

John Drennan: Gilmore sits contentedly on the riverbank watching the bodies of his enemies pass by

Labour leader Eamonn Gilmore arriving at the Labour Party annual conference in Killarney on Friday night.
Picture by Don MacMonagle
Labour leader Eamonn Gilmore arriving at the Labour Party annual conference in Killarney on Friday night. Picture by Don MacMonagle
John Drennan

John Drennan

The Chinese say that if you sit by the river-bank long enough you will see the bodies of all your enemies pass by.

We don’t wish to be cruel but a quick look at the top table of Labour would suggest these fellows have seen a fair few body’s sail by.

There was a distinctly grey and grumpy feel to the conference as Ruairi Quinn, Proinsias de Rossa and Pat Rabbitte pirouetted in front of the admiring delegates.

Sadly whilst Mr Gilmore has spent no shortage of time on the political river-bank, he has looked more like a lost Robinson Crusoe than a Chinese philosopher.

But, recently he certainly has seen no shortage of political enemies float by.

Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams may have been casting avaricious eyes at Labour’s soft underbelly since Labour took that dangerous plunge but these days Gerry is threshing somewhat frantically in the water and no-one is in a rush to save him.

And whilst Michael Martin and Fianna Fail might not be drowning they have certainly become becalmed.

And that’s not the end of it either for Mr Gilmore’s decision to transform himself from being the Mrs Doubt-fire of Dun Laoghaire into the axe-man of the Cabinet means he may yet see the bodies of a couple of former Labour leaders float past before the next election.

So what is the main factor behind the Gilmore recovery?

Ironically, those who have been the greatest source of torture for Mr Gilmore may have taught the Labour leader his most valuable lesson.

It has taken a while but Mr Gilmore in contrast appears to have borrowed a trick from Mr Kenny in learning that resilience really is the best political virtue.

His ‘doing a job, whatever that job might be’ rhetoric is open to satire but simply by surviving he has achieved the possibility of a future.

Of course, the politics of resilience means that in the case of Labour most of the socialists from the seventies now are seventy.

But whilst our Grumpy Old Men may now move with the speed of a tortoise their survival proves that, in Irish politics at least, when it comes to a race between the hare and the tortoise the latter always wins.

Irish Independent

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