Sunday 15 September 2019

Burton seeks to limit damage of Gilmore's book

Joan Burton: replaced Gilmore
Joan Burton: replaced Gilmore
Former Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore at RTÉ to talk to Miriam O’Callaghan about his new book. Photo: Fergal Phillips

Daniel McConnell

Tánaiste Joan Burton has moved to play down the damage of Eamon Gilmore's tell-all book about their difficult working relationship.

Labour is already grappling with heightened tensions as the plan to deal with the rental crisis is dividing opinion within the Coalition.

This weekend the Irish Independent published extracts from Mr Gilmore's new book, which describes how he was dropped from Cabinet by Ms Burton in a meeting that lasted barely two minutes.

Responding to the publication of extracts from Mr Gilmore's book, a spokesman for Ms Burton said: "There are always differences of opinion in politics.

"But as is clear in this book, Eamon, Joan, the Labour Party and the whole of Government worked together extremely hard and extremely effectively to turn the country around."

This week, tense negotiations will continue between Environment Minister Alan Kelly and Finance Minister Michael Noonan over a rent-certainty plan that is now unlikely to be delivered for another week at least.

The Irish Independent has learned that Mr Kelly is to meet with Mr Noonan to try and overcome the impasse.

It is understood that Mr Kelly's desire to limit rent increases to inflation will be abandoned at the behest of Fine Gael.

"Fine Gael have gone much further than they are probably comfortable with, but in return there has to be compromise," said a Government source.

"There is a lot of disagreement around that inflation element and given how much disagreement there is, it is unlikely to happen."

Speaking yesterday, Mr Kelly's colleague, Communications Minister Alex White said the final plan would have measures to bring some comfort to tenants.

"There will be measures to improve rent certainty, that is my hope" Mr White said.

As the parties remain divided on the rent issue, Mr Gilmore heaped pressure on Taoiseach Enda Kenny over the "army at the ATMs" controversy.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, Mr Gilmore insisted that Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan was not the person who spoke of the Army being used to protect bank machines.

Mr Kenny has courted controversy since telling a Madrid conference that the Governor told him the Army would be needed.

Mr Gilmore said he had also heard talk of security arrangements around the possible break-up of the euro.

"I recall when he used that language in Madrid I'd heard that phraseology before," he said. But he added: "I remember one particular crisis meeting that we had... where the Governor of the Central Bank was present. We talked about what would we need to do to re-launch the punt. How quickly could it be printed?

"One of the things that we considered was the possibility of public disorder, of panic, and there was a decision made to ask senior officials to liaise with the gardaí and the Army about the security measures that would be needed in that period of time.

"I recall somebody saying at the meeting something to the effect of the order of, 'Oh my God will we have to have soldiers guarding the ATM machines?'

"I'm satisfied, by the way, that it wasn't the Governor of the Central Bank that said it."

Mr Gilmore, the new EU Peace Envoy to Colombia, also told how the attempted heave against him left him hurt and on the verge of tears.

"I had sought a couple of hours to tell my son, who was out of the country, and my staff, who were losing their jobs with me going, and I wasn't given that," he said.

Mr Gilmore was speaking during an in-depth interview with RTE's Miriam O'Callaghan.

Any profits Mr Gilmore makes from his book will be donated to the Alzheimer's Society of Ireland. During his interview, he spoke movingly about the death of his mother in 2007, just days after he had become Labour leader. She had suffered from Alzheimer's.

Irish Independent

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