Too early for talk of an election pact with FG - Quinn
Former Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has insisted it is too early to discuss an election pact with Fine Gael but said he "unashamedly" supports the return of the Coalition.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Quinn said he believes the General Election will be in February and the political landscape is likely to change in the coming months.
"I think it is too early to put a shape on how we cooperate, but it's not too early to say the only real option for the continued consolidation of our programme to return back to prosperity is a return of Fine Gael and Labour in sufficient numbers," he said.
If a pact is agreed, he said, it would have to be examined on a case-by-case basis across all constituencies.
The former Labour Party leader admitted the Government had made mistakes during its first term in office, but he said this was because it was faced with an unprecedented crisis.
Mr Quinn, who recently announced he is to retire from politics, also pointed to the number of first-time ministers given senior positions.
"A lot of the ministers, and they are all mature now and have emerged with a lot of experience, but in the first 18 months there were people who hadn't any experience. Now they have - on both sides - and the new younger Labour ministers and ministers of state are very impressive," he added.
He said he will be "heavily involved" in the election planning for his own constituency of Dublin Bay South and will fight to ensure Labour junior minister Kevin Humphreys gets re-elected.
Mr Quinn dismissed recent poll results which showed Labour struggling to reach double figures and pointed to the failure of UK pollsters to predict the outcome of the recent general election in Britain.
"Reading polls now and trying to get a steer from them is like trying to interest people in Christmas wrapping paper in August. They know Christmas is coming but they are not interested," he said.
Mr Quinn's successor in the Department of Education, Jan O'Sullivan, yesterday said she would not rule out a voting pact with Fine Gael in the upcoming election.
Ms O'Sullivan accepted there are different views within Fine Gael and Labour about an election pact.
"I would not at this point say that we should have a pact, but I think it is something that we will consider closer to the election. But it is not the most important thing. The people decide ultimately where the votes go."
There is a growing divide within Labour over a voting pact with Fine Gael with some members believing a deal will have a detrimental impact.
Where Labour TDs stand on Fine Gael deal
On the fence
Ciaran Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Brendan Ryan, Joanna Tuffy, Brendan Howlin, Derek Nolan, Robert Dowds, Sean Sherlock, Ciara Conway, Alan Kelly, John Lyons