Gilmore claims people want coalition


POST-ELECTION CHOICES:THE CHOICE facing the electorate was between single-party Fine Gael government and a coalition in which his party had a strong presence, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said yesterday.

He said Fine Gael and Labour were agreed on “a good deal of issues” already, and that the electorate was not prepared to give a Dáil majority to any particular party.

Speaking in Irish on Raidió na Gaeltachta, he said: “I don’t think that is what the people of the country are looking for.

“I don’t think the people of this country are prepared to give complete power to any particular party, and that people want a coalition.

“Certainly, people are looking for a coalition that would be strong and lasting, and would tackle the major problems of the country.

“In a way, Labour and Fine Gael are agreed on a good deal of issues, eg reforms in the health service and some of the political and public sector reforms.

“There are differences over the budget and how to put the economy back on its feet.”

Looking ahead to the post-election period, he said: “Certainly, in any negotiation that took place after the election, it would be necessary to resolve those issues.”

He added: “There would have to be agreement because you would have to be united on a programme for government.

“Now, I am optimistic that could be done. We did it before; Labour was a strong presence in previous governments, eg in the mid-1990s.”

However he cautioned that “the election still has to take place”.

He added: “In my opinion, the choice at present is between a single-party Fine Gael government or a coalition in which Labour would be a strong or even majority partner.”

In the interview with Raidió na Gaeltachta political editor Eoin Ó Murchú, he said there was no option but to renegotiate the EU-IMF deal because the alternative would destroy the Irish economy.

In relation to the Labour Party’s policy on the Irish language, Mr Gilmore said it would not be putting an end to Irish as a compulsory Leaving Certificate subject, adding that such a move would do serious damage to Gaeltacht economies.

He stressed the need for political reform based on the real needs of the country, and said that the Labour Party would get the Dáil working in a more effective manner.