Gilmore gale hits Glen of the Downs as glory days of Labour predicted to return


The Labour leader’s reception on the campaign trail went from upbeat to religious

THE GENERAL election campaign has already started as far as Eamon Gilmore is concerned – and Labour’s hour has come round at last.

The Gilmore gale breezed through Wicklow and Wexford yesterday, seeking to sweep aside the other parties as so much flotsam and jetsam.

This particularly applied to Sinn Féin, who have, from a Labour standpoint, been getting ideas above their station, winning the Donegal byelection and doing well in the opinion polls.

First stop was a hotel in the Glen of the Downs, where Labour solidarity was in evidence as outgoing TD Liz McManus turned out to support party colleague Anne Ferris, who beat the sitting deputy’s son, Ronan, for the Dáil nomination in Wicklow.

The attendant press entourage wanted to hear Gilmore’s response to Gerry Adams, who had been replying on Morning Irelandto the Labour leader’s rejection of his political advances on News at Onethe day before.

Whatever else the Gilmore gale may be doing, it is creating a cold house for the “Shinners”, rejected as coalition partners on the basis that they won’t get enough TDs elected to make it a possibility.

The mood at the Wicklow campaign launch was very upbeat, but the atmosphere when the Labour leader got to Enniscorthy verged on the religious.

Sitting TD Brendan Howlin fondly recalled the days when the Wexford constituency returned two Labour TDs – Brendan Corish and John O’Leary.He predicted that those glory days were returning, with himself and running mate Cllr Pat Cody, a prominent trade unionist, both taking seats in the next Dáil.

Cody just happens to be a son of Wexford’s great sporting rival, Kilkenny, but the presence of his friend, All-Ireland hurling captain Martin Storey, showed the purple-and-gold can work happily with the black-and-amber.

Since we were in Enniscorthy there were ample references to nearby Vinegar Hill, Theobald Wolfe Tone and Labour’s co-founder James Connolly. When it was put to the Labour leader that the head of the Irish Citizen Army would not have given the brush-off to Sinn Féin, Gilmore responded with a Connolly quote: “The cause of Labour is the cause of Ireland; the cause of Ireland is the cause of Labour.”

The venue beside the river Slaney where the launch took place was crowded to capacity and beyond to hear the Gilmore gospel. Nobody was heard to laugh when he said Labour was going to lead the next government.

Local Labour supporter Frank Martin recalled how his late father, Willie, had campaigned for the election of John O’Leary as a TD back in the 1940s and 1950s.

“My father always maintained that the country should be looking after the pennies, and the pounds would look after themselves. Dev ran the country on shillings and pence, and now they can’t run it on millions,” Mr Martin said.

The mood was well-reflected by local Labour activist Frank O’Connor from Ross Road, who said, “I think Gilmore is fantastic: hopefully he will be the next taoiseach.”