Eamon Gilmore to step down as Labour leader

Eamon Gilmore has resigned as leader of the Labour party this afternoon.

The Tánaiste made the announcement at a press conference at 4pm, following a poor result in both the local and European elections this weekend.

"At 10.30am this morning I informed the general secretary of the Labour party that I intend to stand down as leader of the party with effect from the election of my successor," he said.

"I am proud of the progress we have made ... but it was a course which carried a high political risk, and Labour has paid the price in the local and European elections."

He said he deeply regrets “the loss of good public representatives and the defeat of outstanding Labour candidates in the elections”.

He added he believed the work of renewing the party was best done under new leadership.

“As citizens and as a party, we have a duty to put the people first,” he said.

Several party colleagues signed a motion of no confidence in the leader earlier today.

Gilmore said he made the decision last night after speaking with his family and party figures, before today's motion of no confidence. He said he had not been aware of the motion in advance.

"We must and we will continue to put the needs of the country and the Irish people first, and to do so, we must put the message we received from the Irish people first."

Gilmore said he would continue to be a part of the work that needs to be done, and preparations were being made for the election of a new leader. He will step down when a new leader is chosen.

Nominations for the leadership will close on June 3, with the leader expected to be in place by July.

"I am immensely proud of the courage shown by those members of the Labour party who, over the last three years, put their country first - who recognised that real politics is about finding real solutions."

Mr Gilmore is not retiring from politics in the near future, and said he would seek re-election at the next General Election.

The party won no seat in Europe, and secured just over 7% of the first preference vote in local elections - half their previous performance in 2009.

Ahead of the press conference, Enda Kenny said he had not spoken to Eamon Gilmore, telling reporters he was unable to reach Gilmore on the telephone.

"I do not know what's in the statement - I just tried to ring him, I can't get through."

"It's absolutely critical for this country that stability is maintained."

Labour TD Ciaran Lynch, speaking from Cork, said he thought Gilmore had made the decision himself, "and in that context he made the right decision."

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STATEMENT BY EAMON GILMORE TD

At 10.30 am this morning, I informed the General Secretary of the Labour Party that I intend to stand down as Leader of the Party, with effect from the election of my successor.

I have asked that the Executive Board of the Party immediately make arrangements for the election of a new Leader of the Labour Party before the end of this Dáil term.

I have had the honour and privilege to lead the Labour Party for seven years.

In 2011, following our most successful ever General Election result, I asked the party to take on the responsibility of Government during the worst economic crisis in the history of the State.

I did so because I believed then, as I do now, that as citizens, and as a party, we had a duty to put the country first. To address the crisis, to get out of the bailout, to reverse the loss of employment, to get the economy to recover, and to do so in as fair and just a manner as humanly possible.

I still believe that was the right decision, and I am proud of the progress we have made in achieving those objectives.

But it was a course which carried a high political risk, and Labour has paid the price for that in the local and European elections. I deeply regret the loss of good public representatives and the defeat of outstanding Labour candidates last Friday.

I have already spoken of the necessity for renewal. The Party and the Government must move on to a new phase and look to the future. Where we have had successes, we must build on them. Where we have fallen short, we must do better. Where new problems are arising, we must find solutions for them. We must, and we will, continue to put the country and the needs of the Irish people first. And in doing so, we must hear, heed and act on the clear message we received last Friday.

There is work to do, and I intend to be part of it, but I believe that the work of renewing the Party is best done under new leadership.

I wish to thank all the members of the Party, all of our public representatives and candidates, the Party Staff, and especially my own staff, who have worked so hard with me and for me over the past seven years.

As I have said many times, I am immensely proud of the courage shown by those members of the Labour Party who, over the past three years, put their country first. Who recognised that real politics is about finding real solutions, and who put loyalty and country before everything else. It has been an honour to lead you, and I look forward to working with you for a long time to come.

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