Gilmore rules out FF coalition


Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has categorically ruled out a coalition with Fianna Fail when a Government is formed after the next General Election.

Mr Gilmore made the emphatic rejection of Fianna Fáil this evening after comments by him earlier in the day were interpreted as possibly leaving the door open for some kind of arrangement.

Speaking to reporters in advance of his party’s parliamentary party meeting in Faithlegg, Co Waterford, Mr Gilmore said that his party had no plans to share Government with Fianna Fáil.

But after the comments were reported as offering the possibility of some alliance, Mr Gilmore moved to clarify the remarks and ruled out any dealings with Fianna Fáil.

“I have made it clear that the Labour Party will put Fianna Fáil into opposition after the next election. We will not be going into government with them. I made it clear that Fianna Fáil is not capable of leading the country out the economic difficulty,” he said.

And in his opening address to his party’s TDs and Senators, Mr Gilmore also held out the possibility that Labour could be the biggest party after the next election and in a position to form a Government with it as the dominant party.

“We are also in the midst of a major sea change in Irish politics. This time last year, I challenged the notion that the essential politial choice in Ireland must always be between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

“I said that the Labour Party should and could develop as the third option,” he said.

He cited as support for that the fact that in the local and European elections, the party won a quarter of the seat in the European Parliament and had increased its representation in local government by a third. The recent Irish Timesopinion poll, he said, had also pushed Fianna Fáil into third place.

The party’s TDs and Senators also voted unanimously to oppose Nama and to back the party leaderships alternative plan for temporary nationalisation of the banks.

The meeting was addressed by Karl Whelan from the School of Economics in UCD, a leading critic of the Nama proposal.

Mr Whelan criticised the Government’s insistence on paying a higher long-term economic value for the bank’s loans rather than market loans. He said that in the hands of Mr Lenihan, LTEV was a vehicle designed to rule out nationalisation.

He also said that he suspected that even with the involvement of Nama, the banks would still have capital levels that “are legal but still very low by international standards”.

“International lenders probably won’t lend to them without the government guarantee being kept in place,” he said.

Mr Gilmore told the meeting that the party would give the country what he described as a “fresh start”. He said the party needed to set out strategies on the economy, on reforming the public services, and on political reform.

Mr Gilmore also exhorted his party to support the Lisbon Treaty, and attacked other left-wing groupings as being out of tune with the time.

“They are stuck in a time warp. Some of these left-wing groups have got them into a situation where they opposed the Europe idea from the start.

“The reality is that EU has been very good for this country and for working people,” he said.