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Joan Burton's response: Eamon Gilmore is the leader of the Labour Party and I support him in that.

Phil Prendergast MEP suggested that the Social Protection Minister take over the leadership.

Burton, Prendergast and Gilmore pictured together. (File photo)
Burton, Prendergast and Gilmore pictured together. (File photo)
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

JOAN BURTON SAYS that she supports Eamon Gilmore’s leadership of the Labour Party after colleague Phil Prendergast MEP suggested that the Minister for Social Protection take over.

Speaking this evening after a day of rebutalls from the Labour leadership, Burton told reporters that she is sticking by Gilmore.

“On the issue of Eamon Gilmore’s leadership. Eamon Gilmore is the leader of the Labour Party and I support him in that. There is no leadership question, I want to be firm on that,” she said.

Burton said that she was “rather surprised” to hear Prendergast’s comments this morning but that at the same time understood that the Ireland South candidate was worried by poor polling by Labour.

I actually think that Phil was probably understandably disappointed at the weekend’s polls. But I think that the response to that is to actually get out and campaign. To in fact go and talk to people on the doorsteps about the work that she has done as an MEP.

Burton said that it’s still early days in the campaign and that five years ago people who weren’t polling well went onto get a seat.

“The reason they got elected is because they are people of substance as she is,” Burton said of Prendergast.

The Irish Independent poll which prompted Prendergast’s comments showed her enjoying only 4 per cent support with the poll further raising the possibility that Labour may not secure any seats in the European election.

But Burton insists that Labour candidate have strong support in their areas:

Where Labour has an advantage is the Labour European and local election candidates are very rooted in their community. They have, in terms of running local councils in the last five years, brought significant improvements to people’s living standards in terms of school development, property planning and development, that’s what the elections are about at the end of the day.

Read: Gilmore: No, Phil… I’m not quitting >

Read: The first opinion poll of the European elections has focused minds… and sharpened knives >

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Rónán Duffy

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