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Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore warns against ‘kite-flying’ and rumours ahead of budget

EAMON Gilmore has said he hopes there will be no "kite-flying" and rumours about spending cuts and taxes in the budget - for the sake of the public.

The Labour leader also moved to dampen fears of a potential split in his party, but said he was disappointed in three senators who boycotted the annual think-in over the choice of luxury venue.

"I hope we don't see a season of kite-flying and rumours and leaks that are giving rise to unnecessary concerns," he said.

The Tanaiste wrapped up Labour's parliamentary party meeting in Carton House Hotel in Maynooth, Co Kildare, saying that speculating on services facing budget cuts was unfair to the public, particularly the elderly who hear different rumours being floated from one day to the next.

He also laughed off claims from Labour MEP Nessa Childers that the party could break up, with a splinter group forming another party.

"That's news to me," said the Tanaiste.

Leinster MEP Ms Childers had earlier claimed she could see tensions forming in the party and would not be surprised by a split.

"In terms of the Labour Party, there is a risk in the medium term of a break-away political party forming of people who feel they are more representing the Labour Party," said Ms Childers.

"This is very evident all over Europe."

She said Labour should renegotiate the Programme for Government to avoid being accused of breaking election promises.

The Tanaiste insisted the mood among the party was good and that he was "very proud" of all its members and their work.

However, he added that it was "disappointing" that senators James Heffernan, Denis Landy and John Kelly refused to attend the two-day think-in at the plush Carton House, the former estate home of Lord FitzGerald.

He said they missed good discussions, which would affect their constituents.

"We were all here today and yesterday to discuss the problems that are facing the country," said the Labour leader.

"These are problems that affect the people of the constituencies of the people who stayed away, just as they affect the people of the constituencies who were here."

The senators boycotted the meeting at the 12,000-acre estate, training resort of choice for renowned sports teams like Real Madrid, because they did not want to be seen to be living it up on taxpayers' money.

Mr Landy said there were suitable facilities in Leinster House to stage the event.

"We're sending out the wrong signal to people who are struggling in their everyday life by going to a five-star resort hotel to discuss a future budget which is inevitably going to cause further difficulties for ordinary working class people in this country," he told RTE, Radio.

Labour's think-in ended as a 25-strong group of grassroots activists announced plans to lobby left wing politicians to fight the party's support for cuts in spending.

Fine Gael, which wrapped up its annual think-in yesterday, also came under fire for its chosen location.

The parliamentary party travelled to Westport, Co Mayo, and spent two days in the plush Knockranny House Hotel.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny defended the party's decision to host its meeting in the four-star hotel, saying there had been signs of economic recovery - particularly in the hotel industry over the last year.

The Labour session today included discussions on the children's rights referendum.

Children's Minister and Fine Gael TD Frances Fitzgerald gave a talk to Labour members to discuss developments on the planned public vote, which is due some time in the autumn.

PA Media