Belfast Telegraph

Labour Party 'up to the challenge'

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has insisted the Labour Party is up to the challenge of bringing about stability to the country.

In his opening address at the party's annual conference, which marks its centenary year, Mr Gilmore pledged to help take Ireland back from profiteers and to renew the Republic.

"Our mission has always been to serve not kings nor kaisers, but the people of Ireland," said Mr Gilmore.

"We have done so with honour, and integrity, and no tribunal of inquiry has ever found otherwise."

Speaking before some 800 Labour delegates, the Tanaiste was referring to the recent publication of the Mahon Tribunal, which found corruption within opposition party Fianna Fail during the 1990s.

He made no reference to Labour's coalition partner Fine Gael, nor Taoiseach Enda Kenny in his speech. He said the focus should be on the Irish people and the need to restore a fairer and more progressive nation.

"The Irish people are once more confronted by fundamental needs - the need for good jobs, for secure incomes, for the chance to build a life in their own country," Mr Gilmore went on.

Earlier, Mr Gilmore was forced to defend his deputy leader Joan Burton who has come under fire after reportedly meeting former politician and businessman Denis O'Brien in New York. She had previously criticised others meeting the controversial figure.

"I think we're getting to the point where Government ministers and public representatives are going to have to go round covered in a cloak lest they meet anybody, or see anybody, or cross the street to anybody," said the Tanaiste. "I mean, this is getting ridiculous."

Meanwhile, hundreds are expected to turn up to the second day of the ard fheis on Saturday protesting over turf cutting, the septic tank charge and the controversial household charge.

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