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Good news Joan! Gilmore confirms he will run again

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Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton

Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton

Eamon Gilmore

Eamon Gilmore

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Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton

Former Tanaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore will contest the next General Election, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Mr Gilmore, who resigned as leader of the junior Coalition party after a bruising local and European election in May, has kept a low profile since his resignation, but was seen back in the corridors of power around Leinster House last week.

In keeping with the practice of former party leaders, Mr Gilmore is not expected to take up any position on Oireachtas committees, but will concentrate his efforts on his constituency of Dun Laoghaire.

"He is in great form and looks relaxed. He was away in China during the summer and now is free of the hassle of the leadership," said one Labour figure.

But the former Labour leader faces an uphill battle to retain his seat in a four-seat Dun Laoghaire constituency, which also includes the Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, who is guaranteed to be returned to the Dail.

Mr Gilmore resigned on May 27 after it emerged a number of Labour TDs were about to table a motion of no confidence in him after the party's hammering in the local and European elections.

However, Mr Gilmore's decision to stand down quickly and the fact he accepted responsibility for the defeat won him considerable praise both within the party and the media.

"Let us not forget, many of us are only here in the Dail because of him and his successful leadership of the party in opposition," said one TD.

Since stepping down, Mr Gilmore has retreated from the public eye and not made any media comment on his turbulent three-and-a-half years as Tanaiste. His Twitter account, which was very active while he was party leader and Tanaiste, has not been updated since July 3.

It has been suggested that the three former leaders who were demoted from Cabinet - Mr Gilmore, Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte - may seek to undermine Ms Burton.

But one party source said: "Eamon as her immediate predecessor is unlikely to be quipping in from the backbenches. Despite the acrimony between them, he has no appetite to go there."

Ms Burton's performance so far as leader has also taken a number of her previous critics within the party by surprise.

"She is certainly listening more than she was known to have done previously. She can no longer play the outsider, so she is certainly acting in a more considered way," a senior party TD told the Sunday Independent.

Labour have seen an upsurge in their opinion poll ratings since Mr Gilmore's departure, with one poll putting the party at 14pc, double what it had achieved previously.

Separately, as the Labour Party prepares for its Autumn think-in in Wexford tomorrow, relations between Ms Burton and her new deputy Alan Kelly have been described as "extremely tetchy" by a fellow minister.

Their relationship is now the subject of close scrutiny within the party, with some speculating that Mr Kelly is already showing leadership ambitions. One source told the Sunday Independent: "Kelly is a man in a hurry and it will be interesting what the dynamic will be between them around the Budget, which Kelly will be pushing hard for a Labour focus."

Sunday Independent