Questions over Gilmore on hold until after elections

Howlin describes Prendergast comments on Labour Party leadership as ‘unhelpful”

Labour MEP Phil Prendergast this morning called on Eamon Gilmore to resign as party leader after the latest in a series of disastrous opinion polls. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Labour MEP Phil Prendergast this morning called on Eamon Gilmore to resign as party leader after the latest in a series of disastrous opinion polls. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 12:56

Brendan Howlin will be out canvassing with Phil Prendergast this afternoon, and what anyone would give to listen in to that conversation.

Ms Prendergast, the MEP looking to retain the Labour Party seat in Ireland South, this morning called on Eamon Gilmore to resign as party leader after the latest in a series of disastrous opinion polls.

Mr Howlin said she was “wrong” to make such a call, and described her comments as “unhelpful”. Ms Prendergast could be dismissed as a maverick within the party, and someone who wasn’t elected to her seat (she was a sub for Alan Kelly, who left the European Parliament to take up a Dáil seat in 2011), but she is still a sitting MEP calling for her party leader to resign in the middle of an election campaign.

It has resurrected questions about Mr Gilmore’s stewardship of the party once again. These had subsided in the past few months but re-emerged in recent weeks as TDs, watching opinion poll after opinion poll showing Labour bouncing around or below the 10 per cent mark, began to realise the grim scenario facing them.

The hope that the coming recovery would help regain some of the lost ground since 2011 is still there, yet it is now strongly set against a realisation that the party will be doing very well to come back with over 15 seats after the next general election.

It is extremely unlikely there will be more calls for Gilmore to step aside this side of polling day. Privately and publicly, many in political circles this morning criticised Ms Prendergast for reacting so strongly to an opinion poll.

People across politics are saying it also makes her look like a weak candidate. “Why would someone in Cork vote for her now, when she thinks her leader is awful?” is how one Fine Gaeler put it this morning. “Maybe she wants to be talked about, and she’s done that, but she looks weak.”

It can be safely assumed that Ms Prendergast will not win a seat in Ireland South, and nobody significant will call for Gilmore to go this side of polling day.

Thereafter is quite another matter, with level headed TDs saying his position will have to be assessed after May 23rd.

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