Gilmore insists leadership not on line at election rally

Tánaiste insists Coalition will run full term and he will continue as Labour leader

The Labour Party launched its election manifesto today, Thursday, May 1st, at Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin.

 

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has insisted his leadership of the Labour Party is not on the line in the local and European elections next month.

At a rally to launch Labour’s campaign, Mr Gilmore insisted the Coalition will run its full term until spring 2016 and said he will continue as Labour leader.

Present at the event was South constituency substitute MEP Phil Prendergast, who called on Mr Gilmore to resign at the start of the week.

Mr Gilmore mentioned Ms Prendergast by name and her Dublin colleague - substitute MEP Emer Costello - when saying he was “enormously proud” of both their achievements in the European Parliament.

Asked about his own position, Mr Gilmore said he planned to carry on with his work. “My leadership is not up for debate or not up for anything,” he said.

“I intend to continue the work and responsibility that I’ve been given to lead our party in Government and to lead our country out of the economic crisis that we’ve found ourselves in. We’ve made a lot of progress, but we still have more to do.”

With opinion polls suggesting its support is hovering below 10 per cent, Labour faces a big challenge in the run-up to polling day on May 23rd. The party secured 14.5 per cent of the first preference vote in the 2009 local election and 19 per cent in the 2011 general election.

Asked about the implications of the election for the Government, Mr Gilmore pointed out the current contest is not a general election. “The general election will be in the spring of 2016 as we have always intended, and we have work to continue to do and complete between now and then.”

He acknowledged uncertainty over the water tax was making life difficult for Labour candidates on the canvass but expects an agreement with Fine Gael shortly. “When there’s an issue in public discussion, it’s coming up - people want to know what’s the answer.”

Mr Gilmore criticised Ukip leader Nigel Farage, French National Front leader Marine le Pen and Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders for practising the “politics of fear and hate” in their own countries.

He claimed similar trends were evident this week when anti-austerity campaigners “intimidated” Labour local election candidate Martina Genockey on the streets of Tallaght, west Dublin.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett and Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins should dissociate themselves from such campaigning, Mr Gilmore said.

“I believe that they have a responsibility and I hope that they will exercise it to dissociate themselves from the kind of thing that happened to Martina Genockey last week, and to condemn that kind of activity.”

Mr Gilmore was cautious on the prospect of tax cuts in the next budget. “This is the month of May. The 2015 budget won’t be determined until October and I think it’s too early to be speculating about what may or may not be in either this year’s budget or next year’s budget,” he said.

“I think we have to be mindful that that recovery is still quite fragile, we still have to work out, and I’ve said before that as financial circumstances permit that we would all hope to relieve the burden of taxation on hard-pressed families.”