When TDs feel the heat it's time to kick adviser ass


MIRIAM LORD'S WEEK: ALL IS quiet on the surface in the Government parties, with their two leaders away in Amerikay for the week.

But deputies are reeling at the public backlash over budget cuts, with many of the younger bloods in the Labour Party particularly unnerved by their rapid descent towards popularity levels of near Fianna Fáil proportions.

There has been so much disquiet behind the scenes that party leader Eamon Gilmore has called a special parliamentary party meeting for next Thursday evening in an effort to address the concerns of his deputies and senators.

One parliamentary party member tells us: “I hear it’s going to be a no-holds-barred, clear-the-air meeting. Everything is on the table.”

Apparently, no handlers or advisers are allowed to attend. When politicians are feeling the heat, the unelected power around their leadership – traditionally viewed with deep suspicion – often comes in for the most criticism.

The meeting is being held off campus, not too far away from Leinster House, in the headquarters of the Taxation Institute. (In terms of the optics, maybe not the best choice of venue. Tax is a very sore point in Labour at the moment. But it’s a lovely space, we’re told.) The special gathering should make the scheduled weekly PLP meeting the day before, on Wednesday afternoon, a rather tame affair. In the meantime, Tánaiste Gilmore will be addressing the Labour faithful in Stillorgan on Monday night, as part of his plan to meet party members around the country.

We’re not sure what those Northside stalwarts, Minister Joan Burton and Minister of State Róisin Shortall, will make of their leader favouring deputy Alex White and Dublin South with his first stop-off in the capital.

Maybe he’ll get a more favourable welcome from the grassroots there.