Tánaiste pleased at support for policies
Gilmore describes Childers, O’Callaghan and McHugh as party ‘deserters’
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: “In every battle, there are deserters and we have had a few.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has dubbed as “deserters” the Labour public representatives who have refused to back the Government’s economic policies.
In the past week, Labour MEP Nessa Childers, Fingal councillor Cian O’Callaghan and Meath councillor Jenny McHugh joined the ranks of those who have quit the party since it went into Government with Fine Gael in March of 2011.
In an interview with The Irish Times, Mr Gilmore said that, from the beginning, he knew how difficult the job in Government was going to be and that sacrifices were going to be asked of people in adjusting their family budgets.
“So I have never had any illusion about the political challenge it poses for the Government and the Labour Party in particular. I referred to that on the day we had our conference to enter government.”
Backing of majority
Mr Gilmore said he was really pleased about the fact that the overwhelming majority Labour Party TDs, Senators, MEPs, councillors and party members had supported the efforts of the Government to do what was necessary to rescue the country.
“They have shown enormous courage and enormous fortitude in doing what is the right thing and supporting that in very difficult times.
“In every battle, there are deserters and we have had a few,” he added.
Mr Gilmore said the party was in the process of selecting candidates for local elections but would await the redrawing of the European Parliament constituencies before selecting candidates.
“Emer Costello and Phil Prendergast are doing a fabulous job. During the European presidency, when I had more of an opportunity to be in the European Parliament than previously, I have seen how very highly regarded they are.”
He said Labour would be a vigorous campaigner in the European and local elections but he refused to set targets. “We are going to maximise the number of candidates and maximise the vote,” he said.
Mr Gilmore added that Labour had performed well in local government in difficult times and many of the big improvements in areas such as parks and recreational facilities has been taken at the initiative of the party’s councillors.
One of the achievements he pointed to in Government was the personal insolvency legislation aimed at enabling families, households and small business to make a fresh start.
“The issue now is for the banks to conclude agreements with individuals, with households and small business, and to do that in a sensible way to enable people to get on with the lives to get their businesses moving again to be able to live again,” he said.
Mr Gilmore also said he was very mindful of the plight of families who pay the mortgage but have little or nothing left at the end of the week or the end of the month. “That is why I believe that, when we come to look at the budget in the autumn, we must look to the pressure that those households and families are under.”
Perry’s financial woes
Asked to comment on whether junior minister for small business John Perry could continue in office in the light of his personal debt problems, Mr Gilmore said he should be given time to deal with them.
“His personal finances and his business finances are his own business and the business of his family. My understanding is that he has been given a period of time to sort out those issues. There are clear rules and guidelines governing the distinction between what a Minister does in his or her official capacity and their personal financial affairs, so I think we have to see the period of time he has been given.”