LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore has bluntly dismissed claims of tensions between him and Joan Burton as "nonsense".
Mr Gilmore was forced to defend his relationship with his deputy leader after the Herald revealed that senior Labour sources fear the party is verging on "outright war".
Relations between Ms Burton and the Tanaiste have plunged with Mr Gilmore said to be "furious" with comments she made in an interview on Ireland's Anglo deal.
However, Mr Gilmore moved to contradict sources within his own party, telling the Herald: "There are no tensions. There is no story. There are no tensions."
Ms Burton is understood to have sparked a furious response from the Fine Gael side of the ministerial table after calling for a better EU deal on the country's €3.1bn bank debt. The Dublin West TD made the comments in an interview with the Financial Times last month, before reiterating them when quizzed by Irish reporters.
Sources told the Herald that Ms Burton was being alienated at the Cabinet table.
But responding directly to a Herald report that stated Mr Gilmore's relationship with Ms Burton was on the rocks, the Tanaiste described the claims as "nonsense".
"That's a load of nonsense, this is a very united government and I fully support, as I've always done, the very important work that the Minister for Social Protection is doing. She has a huge job of work in reforming the social protection system and she's doing a fabulous job in carrying it out."
However asked what was said to the Social Protection Minister after her comments about Ireland's promissory notes, Mr Gilmore refused to say.
"I don't think you should believe everything, you know, that appears in the newspapers. The Government has a very clear position in relation to the negotiations that we have under way and the Government is absolutely together in pursuing that."
He then told the Herald that there existed "no tensions" at Cabinet level.
Party sources have again today confirmed that relations among the pair have plunged in recent weeks.
In a tweet yesterday, Labour's Dublin North TD Brendan Ryan compared his party's leadership with Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald. "Always impressed how the deputy leader of Sinn Fein looks up lovingly at her leader when he speaks in the chamber. Doesn't happen in Labour!" it said.