Joan Burton refutes claim she pushed Eamon Gilmore for job as Foreign Affairs Minister

Labour leader Joan Burton has denied she pushed her predecessor Eamon Gilmore to give her the job as Foreign Affairs Minister when the Coalition was being formed.
Joan Burton refutes claim she pushed Eamon Gilmore for job as Foreign Affairs Minister

Instead, his successor claims she warned him that a leader of the Labour Party would have a busy job and should not be travelling abroad when needed at home.

Ms Burton’s comments flatly contradict the remarks made by Mr Gilmore, in his memoir, published last month, about his time at the helm of the party and in government.

In Inside the Room: the Untold Story of Ireland’s Crisis Government, Mr Gilmore said Ms Burton, when he was picking ministers for the cabinet in 2011, expressed an interest in the foreign affairs portfolio, a position he ultimately held.

Speaking to reporters, Ms Burton, who ended up as social protection minister, strenuously denied this and instead said that she placed great emphasis at the time on the opinion that the party leader should be at home in Ireland.

“Well, I think there might have been a slight misunderstanding there,” she said.

Eamon Gilmore

Eamon Gilmore

“I think the discussion around foreign affairs was that I pointed out that there were a lot of people in the Labour Party who could do that job very well, and on the last occasion that Labour had been in government, and... there was a look back at what were the points and what were the lessons that should be taken.

“One of the advices, which was published at the time, was that no leader of the Labour Party in government should be both Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs because the burden of the two jobs — the need to be away from the country a significant amount of time — was not the easiest role for somebody who was also going to be a busy party leader.

“I must say the job that I ... I think, [sic] and the reputation that I had going in, going into government was in relation to economics and finance.

“Obviously, I’ve lived abroad, and worked abroad, and been minister on a previous occasion for overseas development.

“But my focus really was on the economic rescue of the country, and having gone into Social Welfare my focus has been relentlessly on putting people back to work, getting people back to work, and I have to say I have enjoyed very much doing that job.”

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