Labour leader Eamon Gilmore claimed today that his party has a credible chance to lead the next Government for the first time.
He told TDs and Senators at the pre-Dáil gathering in Roscommon that the party now has its largest electoral support in its history and is winning a three horse race.
In his opening address, Mr Gilmore said that Labour could decide the direction of the country for the next 25 years.
“Two years ago, at our meeting in Clonmel, I set out our objective to make politics in Ireland a three-way contest. That goal was met with some scepticism, but now it is very much a reality,” he said.
“We now have a three-horse race – and it is our responsibility and our objective to win that race.
Mr Gilmore said jobs were the key to reviving the economy.
“We will have to bring the economy back from the brink,” he said.
“But never doubt that it can be done. Never doubt that Labour has a vision for the future. And never doubt that the first step is the election of a Labour-led Government.”
Meanwhile, he refused to be drawn on Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s fitness to do an early morning interview after a late night at the Fianna Fáil think-in the day before.
Mr Gilmore criticised the Government’s performance in office but would not comment on Mr Cowen personally.
“I think the Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil have been doing damage to the country for some time. That damage is not based on one interview or any one day,” he said.
“I think there is a sense among the international community, not only does Ireland have zombie banks we also have a zombie Government and the sooner we get it out of office the better.”
Outlining Labour’s key policies, Mr Gilmore promised health care reform, a fairer tax system, the sell-off of Anglo and a clear-out of bank boards.
He added: “No-one should doubt the scale of the challenge. No-one should doubt the responsibility that Labour is seeking to take on. No-one should doubt the difficulties of fighting and winning the election, and of picking up the mess that Fianna Fail are leaving behind them.
“But no-one should doubt either the fundamental decency, energy and endurance of the Irish people, or the potential that exists to make this, once again, a better and fairer Ireland.”