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Take me to your leader
No problem! Eamon Gilmore has just taken over at the helm of the Labour Party. Here, in a wide-ranging interview, he talks about Bertie Ahern, the future of Labour, Gay marriage, God, abortion, bias in the media – and a whole lot more besides.
Jason O'Toole, 15 Oct 2007
reland is changing. Who could have envisaged a day when a mainstream political party would be lead by an agnostic, former student union president, who has experimented with soft drugs and is pro-choice on the contentious abortion debate?
Step forward Eamon Gilmore. Certain politicians and clergy are probably spinning in their graves over the fact that the Labour Party is being lead into the 21st Century by an unashamed liberal thinker, who is unafraid to honestly speak his mind on the key issues.
Born in Galway in 1955, Eamon first became involved in politics with the Students Union at UCG (now NUI Galway). After serving as the President of the Student’s Union there for a year, in 1976, Eamon was selected as President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), and remained in charge until 1978. He was one of a number of prominent USI figures who were associated at the time with Official Sinn Fein.
He then went on to join the Workers’ Party and, after a period as a councillor with Dublin City Council, he eventually won a Dail seat in 1989. Since then, he has been re-elected in ever general election, and is now the sitting TD for the constituency of Dun Laoghaire.
In 1992, Eamon was one of the Workers’ Party deputies involved in the creation of ‘New Agenda’, which subsequently became the short-lived Democratic Left party (Democratic Left merged with Labour in 1999). Between 1994 and 1997, Eamon served as Minister of State at the Department of Marine, when Labour shared power with Fine Gael.
A father of three children, following the resignation of Pat Rabbitte, he was elected leader of the party on September 6 this year.
Jason O’Toole: You have called for the Taoiseach to resign because of questions raised about his private finances in the ‘90s. Is Bertie Ahern guilty of lying to the Mahon Tribunal?
Eamon Gilmore: I don’t believe what I have heard. This is a cock and bull story. You are talking about money that is worth e300,000 in today’s terms – and when you put it altogether – no bank account for five or six years; people producing money that they didn’t count and he didn’t count and the woman lodging it didn’t count and the bank clerk didn’t count; the fact that the lodgement coincidentally happened to be the equivalent of a large Sterling amount; and then there is another lodgement which coincidentally happened to be a large US Dollars amount... I don’t buy his story. Irish people are very fair, very understanding and very sympathetic, but we do not like it when we are taking for gullible fools.