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Gilmore faces crisis as Labour splits in Shortall quit storm

ROISIN Shortall couldn't contain her fury against Eamon Gilmore as she handed in her resignation.

Labour was at war today as party backbenchers split over their loyalties to the former junior minister and the party leader.

Mr Gilmore is facing the biggest crisis of his leadership after Shortall notified him of her decision to quit as junior minister for health by email.

What started as a row between Fine Gael's James Reilly and Ms Shortall has now become an internal Labour battle.

Sources close to Ms Shortall told the Herald today that she felt "badly let down" by the party leadership over its lack of support in her very public falling out with Health Minister Dr Reilly.

The Labour Party was today in turmoil -- with senior TDs describing her resignation as "a devastating blow" to Eamon Gilmore's leadership.

The Tanaiste was more than 5,000km away, at the UN General Assembly in New York, as the controversy unfolded.

Labour Party chairman Colm Keaveney said he had witnessed Gilmore's "categoric support for Roisin Shortall on Saturday afternoon".


But the Herald understands that Mr Gilmore phoned Ms Shortall late last night in a bid to convince her to reconsider her decision. However she declined, stating earlier that she felt she was shown a "lack of support" for her reform proposals "across Government".

The Labour leader is expected to make a desperate attempt to reunite the party following the resignation -- the fourth of its kind since Mr Gilmore led the party into coalition with Fine Gael.

However his failure to come out stronger in support of the TD has left many parliamentary party members furious.

"Eamon Gilmore only has himself to blame for what happened last night. Roisin felt isolated, she felt let down and she felt she didn't have the support for what she wanted to achieve in the area of primary care," a senior party source said.

Some party members have suggested that Ms Shortall was privately expecting to be handed a senior ministerial role by Mr Gilmore, having secured 29.5pc of the first-preference vote in last year's General Election.

But Ms Shortall's decision to quit is likely to come as a relief to Dr Reilly -- who was engaged in bitter infighting with his junior counterpart over a raft of issues.

The pair publicly clashed last week over Dr Reilly's decision to add 15 sites to a list of primary care locations, including two in his own Dublin North constituency.

Despite sharing a tense 30- minute meeting with Ms Shortall on Tuesday over the decision, the Herald understands that the Dublin North West deputy had "already made her mind up".

Ms Shortall phoned a number of her close colleagues last night and this morning to apologise for not informing them before the story broke publicly.

"She was upset. She was quite emotional. She really cared about the job she had to do which makes it even more of a shame," a source said.

To add salt to Ms Shortall's wounds, Mr Gilmore immediately spoke about a potential successor while the party took down her profile from the official website.

In a statement, Mr Gilmore said: "I regret and am disappointed at the decision by Roisin Shortall to resign as a minister of state. I wish to thank her for her work.

"Roisin is an excellent public representative and a valued colleague ... I will be announcing in the near future my nominee to be the new minister at the Department of Health."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also expressed his regret at her decision, thanking Ms Shortall for her work, "particularly in the area of alcohol and the problems caused by the abuse of alcohol".