Eamon Gilmore quits as Labour leader
Tánaiste said party had suffered a ‘very bad day’ on Friday and ‘must hear, heed and act’ on the results
Eamon Gilmore has announced his resignation as Labour leader in the wake of huge losses for his party at the local and European elections.
Mr Gilmore, who is also Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, made the announcement at a press conference in Iveagh House, Dublin this afternoon, following a meeting with junior and senior Ministers.
His resignation will take effect after the election of his successor. Mr Gilmore said Labour had “a very bad day” on Friday and said he took responsibility for the results.
Mr Gilmore said the party “must hear, heed and act” on the outcome of the local and European elections and said the next phase in the party’s development was “best done under new leadership”.
Mr Gilmore said this afternoon he made the decision to resign at 10.30am, before a no-confidence motion from eight parliamentary party members was submitted, when he informed the general secretary of the party of his decision.
Mr Gilmore said he plans to remain in public office and planned to contest the next general election.
The decision on remaining as Tánaiste and a minister was a matter to be discussed between his successor and Taoiseach Enda Kenny, he added.
In a short statement Mr Kenny thanked Mr Gilmore for his “outstanding service to the country as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs”.
“Eamon Gilmore and the Labour Party have been courageous in making the collective decisions that have pulled Ireland back from the brink of economic collapse and put the country on the path towards recovery.”
Mr Gilmore said leading the party into government in 2011 “during the worst economic crisis in the history of the State” had been an honour and a privilege.
“I still believe that was the right decision, and I am proud of the progress we have made in achieving those objectives.
“But it was a course which carried a high political risk, and Labour has paid the price for that in the local and European elections. I deeply regret the loss of good public representatives and the defeat of outstanding Labour candidates last Friday.”
Earlier, a no-confidence motion in his leadership was submitted by TDs Ciara Conway, Dominic Hannigan, Michael McNamara, Ged Nash, Derek Nolan, Aodhan O’Riodain and Arthur Spring, as well as Senator John Gilroy.
The motion read: “We the undersigned propose that the motion the Parliamentary Labour Party does not retain confidence in the Party Leader.”
The motion was due to be debated at the weekly meeting of the parliamentary party this Wednesday.
Mr Gilmore had also faced a no-confidence motion from rank-and-file Labour members in the Dublin Bay North area.
Mr Gilmore had been due to meet Mr Kenny this evening to try to formulate a response to the Coalition parties’ poor performance in the local elections, although it is not clear if this meeting will now go ahead.
A number of party backbenchers had voiced concerns over Mr Gilmore’s leadership of the party over the weekend.
Earlier, Dublin Labour TD Sean Kenny said the leadership of the party had to change because Mr Gilmore was now a “lightning rod” for voters’ unhappiness.
However, other backbenchers had expressed support for Mr Gilmore this lunchtime, with Dublin North West deputy John Lyons expressing confidence in the Tánaiste.
Mr Lyons said a change of leader would not change the public perception of the party. “The situation we are in would not change if we changed leader,” Mr Lyons said.
Earlier Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan, conceded that Fine Gael had also “taken a big hit “in the local elections because of “difficult decisions that had to be made over the past three years”.
Asked on the Today with Sean O’Rourke programme if he believed the Government would last its full term to 2016 Mr Hogan said it was “essential for the country” that it did so. Mr Hogan said he did not accept that there was little chance of the current Coalition being re-elected in the next general election.
Speaking in the Castlebar count centre before Mr Gilmore’s announcement, Mr Kenny said he did not know what was in the statement. However he said it was “absolutely critical for this country that stability is maintained and that we have faith and confidence in the development and strengthening of our economy so that jobs can be provided for and deal with the issues that we have to deal with”.
“I’ve no intention and I’m sure the Tanaiste has no intention of doing anything that would cause instability in our country,” Mr Kenny said.