Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

We will address result - Gilmore

Eamon Gilmore has insisted Labour will not ignore its poor showing in the Meath East by-election

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has vowed to face down the challenges against Labour after its humiliating defeat in the Meath East by-election.

The party leader said he would not ignore the devastating result that saw his candidate Eoin Holmes placed fifth in the poll with 1,245 votes, just 5% of the total

Mr Gilmore added: "I am quite clear, not a good result for the Labour Party. I don't intend to ignore it, I don't intend to ignore what we have heard from the people in Meath and we will address it."

Mr Gilmore said he was disappointed with the result, which was compounded by the success of Labour's senior coalition partner Fine Gael, whose candidate Helen McEntee won the Dail seat formerly held by her late father Shane McEntee.

The Tanaiste added that people recognised the work done by Labour to tackle the country's financial crisis, but he said it was important to convert those efforts into practical help for the hard-pressed public. He said: "We've made progress but of course it hasn't penetrated and it hasn't been reflected in people's lives and their living standards."

Labour was eliminated from the by-election on Thursday in the second count.

Mr Holmes was left trailing behind Ms McEntee and her closest rival, Fianna Fail's Thomas Byrne, who won around 39% and 34% of the votes respectively. He also lost out to Sinn Fein candidate Darren O'Rourke and Ben Gilroy of Direct Democracy Ireland.

As pundits named Fianna Fail favourites to replace the humiliated party in a new coalition, Mr Gilmore refused to be drawn on whether his leadership of the party was under threat. Bookmaker Paddy Power made Social Protection Minister Joan Burton the 11/8 favourite to become the next Labour leader.

But Mr Gilmore insisted Labour would tackle its popularity slump the same way it addressed the country's financial woes.

"The responsibility of leadership is to face down a challenge just as two years ago we faced into the challenge of dealing with the economic financial crisis the country was faced with," he said. "We are going to face the electoral difficulties that the Labour Party now faces."

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