Gilmore says Labour must reassert its core values


The Labour Party must "regain confidence in its core values", the party's spokesman on the environment and local government, Eamon Gilmore, has said.

Speaking to the media following his address to the Desmond Greaves Summer School in Dublin yesterday, Mr Gilmore said he would make a decision on his candidacy for the party leadership "in coming days".

"But it is not just a question of who leads the party but where they are leading it to. More than anything I believe some in the Labour Party have lost confidence in our core values.

"We need to reassert and have confidence in them." In his address, he also said the party should aim to win close to 30 seats in the next general election. He was speaking on the theme of republicanism and Labour in Ireland today.

He said it was the politics of his party that was the most relevant to the concerns of people in modern Ireland, and it was wrong to assume other parties had built modern Ireland.

"More than any other political movement, it was Labour and its allies which drove the modernisation of this State, he added.

"Who modernised the laws on personal freedoms and legalised contraception and divorce?

"Who started equal pay for women and introduced most of our equality legislation? Labour. Who brought in most of our social protections? Labour." He said it was the labour movement that first thought of social partnership.

"And was it not a Labour finance minister who who brought us the euro and who lowered corporation tax to stimulate investment. The reality is that some of those who now appear as modern celebrities were still cowering from the crozier while Labour was doing battle with conservative forces to make Ireland a modern country."

Although the economy was doing well, society was "malfunctioning" in terms of the health service, housing, planning, public transport and crime.

"Labour needs to set clear political and electoral objectives for itself. Labour should now set out to win close to 30 seats in the next general election and to build an active campaigning organisation in every constituency. We need to end the perception and reality of Labour being the 'half party' in a 2½-party set-up."

Martin Mansergh TD said it was "absolutely incumbent on the Government to repair the link" between Shannon and Heathrow. He said Aer Lingus in moving its Heathrow slots from Shannon to Belfast will "complete the pull-out from Shannon as far as Europe and the UK are concerned.

"As someone long involved in North-South co-operation I welcome the Belfast hub into Belfast but did it have to be such a crude two-way zero-sum game?

"Like many others I took the whole point of a retention of a minority share to be that it would enable the State to protect this country's strategic interests even where this conflicts with pure commercial considerations," Dr Mansergh said.