Wednesday 21 August 2019

Gilmore sacked to make way for 'younger' ministers

Former Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton
Former Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Tánaiste Joan Burton has defended the manner in which she sacked her predecessor, Eamon Gilmore, from the Cabinet, saying she wanted to make room for "newer" and "younger" people.

In his explosive new memoir, Mr Gilmore exposes the tempestuous relationship with Ms Burton during their time in government together.

Mr Gilmore says he was "court-martialed, to be shot at dawn" during a three-minute meeting with his successor as Labour Party leader before she announced her ministers.

However, Ms Burton says she found it difficult to satisfy everybody in her Cabinet reshuffle and empathised with Mr Gilmore's description of the day he picked his own ministers as being a lonely one.

"In terms of selecting and appointing a team, he points out himself that it was one of the most difficult and loneliest days of his own life as leader," she said. "I've said before, I was very anxious to actually provide an opportunity to some of the intake of 2011, some of the newer people, some of the younger people.

"People like Ged Nash, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Ann Phelan. In doing that, obviously, as with Eamon, it was difficult, to satisfy everybody."

Despite the strong criticism of her in the book, 'Inside the Room: the untold story of Ireland's crisis government', Ms Burton said she hopes it is "a bestseller".


"A bestseller for himself in context of his sterling contribution to politics and the Labour Party over the decades. And also because it would be a bestseller for a very good cause in the Alzheimer's Society," she said.

Asked if Mr Gilmore was badly-treated after stepping down as party leader, the Tánaiste replied: "My job now is to focus on the next general election, to actually build the recovery for families and individuals around the country.

"Eamon sets out so clearly in the book the very significant and important role that the Labour Party has had since we went into Government.

"My job is to grow that. It's not just an economic recovery but a social recovery as well."

Ms Burton replaced Mr Gilmore as leader following the local and European elections.

In the book, Mr Gilmore discloses how Ms Burton told him he was not becoming European Commissioner and was being dropped from Cabinet during a two-minute conversation.

After the encounter, he bumped into a senior civil servant and commented: "I have just been court-martialed and I am to be shot at dawn!"

Mr Gilmore also writes of Ms Burton's anger at being offered the Social Protection portfolio in his Cabinet as she wanted to be Foreign Affairs Minister.

"She told me that I was making a big mistake," he writes.

Mr Gilmore also details how he was "undermined" as leader and ultimately fell foul of forces within the party.

Irish Independent

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