Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said he would continue to resist pressure on him to drop his foreign affairs post and hit out at those who argued it was not a domestic brief.
As another Labour councillor left the party fold, and amid poor showings in opinion polls, there has been growing pressure on Mr Gilmore to leave the Department of Foreign Affairs for a different ministerial post.
However, speaking in Cork yesterday, the Tánaiste praised Labour members for “sticking with the party”, and said he would not be swayed from his ministerial brief by opinion poll ratings ahead of European and local elections next year.
It was put to him that he had lost 26 councillors around the country, a senator, and an MEP, with Wicklow County Council chairman Jimmy O’Shaughnessy the third Labour representative to quit this week, following the departures of Kerry councillor Seán O’Grady and Dublin councillor Paddy Bourke.
However, the Labour leader said: “The vast majority of public representatives in the Labour Party show great courage, great determination, to get this country out of the mess that we inherited two and a half years ago. This country was broke when the Labour Party went into Government.”
He said repairing the economy required “tough decisions” and added: “Not every member of the Labour Party has been, unfortunately, happy to stick with those decisions and to show the courage and the determination that the vast majority of our members have shown.
He said he expected the vast majority of party members to stick with the party in a “very difficult period”: “I would rather not lose anybody but we have had a very difficult job to do.”
As for his ministerial post, he said: “The Department of Foreign Affairs is a domestic ministry”. He said the country’s reputation had been “in tatters” and needed to be rebuilt.
“In the lifetime of any full five-year period of government, it’s normal that there are some changes in the composition and position of members of the Cabinet, and that is something the Taoiseach and I will address in due course. I am very happy with what I am doing and what I am doing is central to this country’s economic recovery.”
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