Eamon Gilmore and Enda Kenny differ on transfers

Tánaiste says he will focus on getting Labour candidates to seek transfers for running mates, while Taoiseach will encourage Fine Gael transfers to party led by his ‘good friend’

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore stopped well short of saying Labour candidates should encourage their supporters to transfer votes to Fine Gael after Taoiseach Enda Kenny said candidates in his party should seek transfers to Labour.

There is no formal election pact between Fine Gael and Labour. In spite of Mr Kenny’s willingness to encourage transfers to the party led by his “good friend” the Tánaiste, Mr Gilmore would only say transfers were inevitable from Government supporters and he himself would vote accordingly.

Standing side-by-side yesterday as they unveiled the Government’s new plan to kickstart the construction sector, the two leaders had been asked whether they would encourage supporters to transfer votes in the local and European elections tomorrow week.

They were speaking at the FAI headquarters in Abbotstown, situated in the Dublin West constituency where a Dáil byelection campaign is under way to fill the seat left vacant by former Labour TD Patrick Nulty.

Running mates


Although Mr Kenny said he would be advising Fine Gael supporters to transfer to Labour, he said it was for Labour itself to decide if it wanted to do likewise.

Mr Gilmore said it was already a challenge to encourage his candidates to seek transfers to their running mates within the Labour campaign.

“I don’t know whether you spend any time on doors yourself. If you haven’t I’d recommend it,” the Tánaiste said.

In local wards where the party was running two or three candidates, each candidate was seeking first-preference votes for themselves.

“Getting them to recommend transfers to their two running mates is a challenge. Getting them then to mention the name of the European election candidate on the door is a further challenge,” Mr Gilmore added .

“And in this constituency and in Longford-Westmeath, getting them to mention the byelection candidate is an added challenge. So I’m going to concentrate on getting our supporters to transfer their votes to Labour candidates where there are Labour candidates.

"As the Taoiseach says, we don't have a formal agreement on this. I think it is inevitable that people who are supporters of the Government will continue their transfers to the other party and I'll be doing that myself."

Eamonn Coghlan

Mr Kenny prefaced his own remarks by saying he hoped Senator Eamonn Coghlan would take the Dublin West seat for Fine Gael. “The Tánaiste won’t agree with that,” he said.

“But I’ll be advising our candidates to pass on their preference votes to the Labour candidates. We don’t have a formal agreement on this but I’m good friends with the Tánaiste,” Mr Kenny added.

“I’ll be advising people to pass on their preference to a Labour candidate or candidates. It’s a matter for the Labour party as to whether they want to reciprocate that or not.”

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times