Gilmore warns of 'toxic triangle' of FF, banks and developers


A “TOXIC triangle of Fianna Fáil, bankers and property developers” would do “everything they can to stop Labour leading the next government”, according to party leader Eamon Gilmore.

He urged supporters to steel themselves for a “battle with powerful interests” in the lead-up to the next general election, which would be the most “challenging” in Labour’s “long history”.

He expected “certain vested interests to fight ‘might and main’ to stop Labour leading a government”, and cited the example of Australia where “big mining companies” had last week “spent $100 million on an advertising campaign to effectively topple the prime minister [Labor’s Kevin Rudd]”.

Mr Gilmore was speaking in Kilkenny on Saturday evening where he addressed delegates at a Labour Youth conference.

He dismissed last week’s criticism by Green Party leader John Gormley, who said Labour “must have a pain in their rear end” from “sitting on the fence” on policy issues. Mr Gilmore said he did not “do name-calling” and would not “respond in kind”, but believed Mr Gormley’s “strong language” was “in response to Labour’s determination to put them out of government”.

Mr Gilmore appeared to rule out any possibility of a post-election deal with Fianna Fáil, insisting his party’s “clear objective” was “to put Fianna Fáil out of office”.

He expected the next election would “most likely” result in a coalition of his party with Fine Gael, and it would be “up to the electorate to decide which of the two parties was leading that government”.

Later, in a speech to delegates at the Tom Johnson Summer School, Mr Gilmore said public “confidence in the apparatus of government” had been undermined by “failures of governance, failures of oversight, failures to properly distinguish between the private interests of the very wealthy and the public interest – overseen by Fianna Fáil”.

He said “it is not just Brian Cowen who is to blame for this catalogue of disasters” but that “every single Minister who sat at the Cabinet table for the past 13 years bears personal responsibility for the damage that has been caused to our country”.

The “stark fact” facing the next government was that “cleaning up this mess will absorb the attention and energy of the State” for “years to come”.

The economic crisis would constrain public spending but Mr Gilmore claimed a Labour-led government would “lead a profound change” based on the “timeless principle” that “government and politics should serve the interests of everyone equally, not the special interests of a special few”.

He said Labour would have to grapple with the question: how can we achieve our aims when public sector debts have to be reduced, and when the State is lumbered with the costs of the banking crisis?

His suggestions included the establishment of a “strategic investment bank” and on healthcare the “mutualisation of the VHI – turning it into a non-profit organisation separate from the State, but belonging to its hundreds of thousands of members”.