Tánaiste says Labour paying for decisions that ‘saved State’
Gilmore does not agree that party will suffer collateral damage at the next election
He also points to his role as Tánaiste which has given him a direct involvement in key economic decision making through the Economic Management Council (EMC) along with the Taoiseach, Ministers for Finance and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.
“Sometimes the impression is created you are constantly in the air or constantly abroad. I spent more time over the last three years in the Sycamore Room [in Government Buildings] than in Brussels.
“I have two roles in government. One is my role as a line Minister and the other is my role as Tánaiste and member of the EMC. In a Coalition Government where you have two large parties, in effect every Government decision comes across my desk.”
Mr Gilmore refused to be drawn on whether he wants to remain as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade for the rest of the Government’s term or whether he will opt for another department in the reshuffle expected next year.
“We haven’t had that discussion yet. Our concentration up to now has been the crisis and getting us out of the crisis. The exit from the bailout is great news for the country but it is too soon to start celebrating it as recovery has yet to be experienced by the people who have endured suffering in their own lives as a result of what happened.”
A big worry for the Tánaiste is the situation in Northern Ireland. He said that while it is a much better place today than it was five years ago the resurgence of dissident violence could have devastating consequences for the people of the region.
He said that the continuing problems arising from the flags process was another worry. But he expressed confidence that the process being undertaken by US envoy Richard Haass could get the political parties in the North to agree among themselves on a way forward.
Mr Gilmore expressed confidence that in spite of the difficult decisions taken in Government the Labour Party will hold its own in the next election.
He said Labour needed to be in a position to say to voters that the country is “in a better place than we found it and be able to show that in real terms and to have a programme for the period ahead.
“I think this is a good Government. There are few governments that have had to take on the responsibility of government in the awful economic circumstance we found ourselves in and do so much in such a short period of time. Obviously, we are quite a distance out from an election but I don’t believe that when people come to mark their ballot paper in 2016 they will reward the party that got us into the crisis, Fianna Fáil, and punish the party that got us out of it, the Labour Party.”