Labour will stay the course, says Gilmore
TÁNAISTE AND Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has sent out a strong message that his party is in coalition with Fine Gael for the long haul and will not be deflected by current economic and political pressures.
“We have been given a job to do by the Irish people,” he told the annual “think-in” of the parliamentary party yesterday at Maynooth. “We are going to complete the job.”
Rejecting predictions that Labour would suffer at the ballot box because of its involvement with current economic policies, he said: “We can face the future, economically, socially and, yes, electorally, with confidence.”
Mr Gilmore, who is also Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Ireland was already 75 per cent of the way toward the required adjustment in its public finances and the economy was growing again.
In what was seen as an indirect reference to last week’s difficulties over health cuts, he said it was necessary to be “sensitive” when making difficult decisions. Dismissing what he called “noise” in politics, he said the Government was “working well” and moving from crisis management to economic recovery.
Reiterating the commitment to a constitutional amendment to protect children’s rights, he said it would be “one of the proudest legacies of this Government”.
Pointing to Labour’s electoral achievements, he reminded TDs and Senators of how far the party had come. “Remember when we talked about winning up to 30 seats at the next election? Remember when we talked about making politics in Ireland a three-way contest?
“Remember even last year when our guest speaker was somebody who is now the President of Ireland?” he asked.
“There is of course always plenty of noise in politics. What matters for us, however, is that we are clear about what we have set out to do, what our targets are, and that we work consistently to achieve them,” he added.
On the economy, he said: “We are already 75 per cent of the way through the adjustment that we have to make in our public finances.
“From being a running sore on the exchequer, the banking system is recovering, guided by a clear strategy and gaining in confidence.
“Ireland has begun its re-entry to the bond market – a necessity if we are to regain control of our economic destiny. And the economy is growing again.”
He said there will always be difficulties in government but lessons had to be learned from mistakes made. “Politics and government are a human endeavour and sometimes we make mistakes. And what we have to do is learn from those mistakes and to do better the next time.”