Thursday 14 December 2017

Tough decisions and a brutal farewell...

When Eamon Gilmore led Labour into government with Fine Gael in 2011, he knew he and his party were in for a bumpy ride.

Th​e Coalition had been given a mandate to steer a bankrupt country out of the worst economic crisis in history - and there were tough decisions to be made and hard times ahead.

But he didn't foresee that going into government would ultimately lead to his own political demise, or to his party's popularity and support completely imploding.

Accused by elements within Labour of betraying party principals and of caving into pressure from Fine Gael, the former Tánaiste now has his say in his riveting new memoir ​Inside the Room - The Untold Story of Ireland's Crisis Governmen​t.

Covering the period from the General Election campaign in early 2011 to his last days as party leader and Tánaiste in July 2014, he writes frankly about his sense of betrayal with the heave against him, and his disappointment with his successor Joan Burton for firing him from Cabinet, and for seemingly not supporting him for the position of European Commissioner.

He describes how his long political career came to a shuddering halt after a two-to-three-minute exchange in Government Buildings with Burton.

His frosty relationship with Burton is clear, and he reveals how he was taken aback at her "anger" at not being offered Foreign Affairs in the new Fine Gael/Labour cabinet. She told him he was "making a big mistake" at appointing her Minister for Social Protection.

Gilmore outlines how he had a battle to get Enda Kenny to agree to Máire Whelan as the Labour Party nominee for Attorney General - and says he seriously considered not taking a cabinet seat himself in order to concentrate instead on being Tánaiste, party leader and a TD.

We also get fascinating insights into crisis meetings of the Government's Economic Management Council, established by the new Government to manage the financial crisis. At the first meeting of the EMC the day after the Government was formed on March 10, 2011, in the Sycamore Room in Government Buildings - "our War Room" - officials outlined the frightening scale of the economic crisis and the enormity of the job facing the new Government.

This is an honest, pacey read which gives a unique insight into governing at a time when Ireland was on the financial brink.

Inside the Room - The Untold Story of Ireland's Crisis Government by Eamon Gilmore is published by Merrion Press at a RRP of €18.99

- Edited extracts by Miriam Donohue

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