Wednesday 13 December 2017

Gilmore linked to €250k-a-year role in Europe

Tainaiste Eamon Gilmore could be in line for a job in Europe. Picture: Arthur Carron
Tainaiste Eamon Gilmore could be in line for a job in Europe. Picture: Arthur Carron

Daniel McConnell and Shona Murray

Outgoing Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is being linked with the role of Ireland's next European Commissioner following his decision to resign as Labour Party leader.

Mr Gilmore, who announced his intention to resign following his party's poor showing in the local and European elections, is being talked about as a replacement for Maire Geoghegan Quinn, the Irish Independent understands.

The news comes as Taoiseach Enda Kenny has again been linked with the job of EU Commission President, despite him ruling himself out of contention in recent months.

Local and European election results have sparked increased government instability and it's now expected that there will be a more radical cabinet reshuffle than originally planned.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan had been the perceived frontrunner for the post but it's thought he'll be required closer to home.

One cabinet minister told the Irish Independent: "The perception is a deal was done and it was Phil going to Europe. But the weekend changes all that.

"The Taoiseach is the one who will make the call but Gilmore makes sense as an option."

Mr Gilmore's "strong track record" in Foreign Affairs and Trade is being emphasised and talked up by senior government sources, as is his role in restoring the country's reputation abroad since 2011.

Meanwhile, Mr Hogan may be needed to remain here as Fine Gael faces its own struggle to rebuild voter trust after its poor election showing. It has been overtaken by a resurgent Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein in many local authority areas.

Mr Gilmore had previously rubbished suggestions that he would accept the €250,000-a-year European job. But that was when he believed he would lead the Labour Party into the next general election.

Following Labour's disastrous showing in the polls last weekend, with just 51 council seats countrywide, Mr Gilmore acknowledged a new face was required to lead the party.

"Forty-eight hours ago he was leader of the party looking to the next election and he hasn't given the matter any thought, but the landscape has significantly changed," a government source said.

The term of office for EU Commissioners expires at the end of October, but the appointment is to be announced well in advance of that date.

Mr Gilmore and Mr Kenny were in Brussels yesterday for discussions with their European counterparts to consider the next EU Commission President in the wake of the weekend's elections.

Mr Gilmore insisted that government stability has not been affected by his resignation, admitting however that both parties feel "bruised".

He warned that the Coalition has to "heed very clearly the message that the people of the country gave to both government parties, particularly to the Labour Party, last Friday".

The next head of the European Commission was discussed at a dinner attended by Mr Kenny in Brussels last night.

Mr Kenny's name has been associated with an EU position for the past 12 months, but he has previously insisted he wants to lead Fine Gael through the next general election.

Irish Independent

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