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Reprinting the punt and pulling out of government: A look inside Eamon Gilmore's new book

Here’s some of what the former Tánaiste has revealed.

Updated at 2.54pm

FORMER TÁNAISTE EAMON Gilmore is back in the headlines this week with the release of his memoir, Inside The Room.

The Labour politician says he believes the period in which he served as Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s second-in-command will be studied in future, and wanted to get his own memories down on paper while they were still fresh.

It has given a unique insight into what went on behind closed doors during one of the most tumultuous times in the history of the State.

All profits from the book will be donated to the Alzheimer Society of Ireland.

Gilmore spoke to RTÉ Radio 1′s Sunday with Miriam about the book today. Here’s some of the highlights.

Reprinting the punt was discussed

Questions have been raised over the Taoiseach saying the Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan warned him that the army may need to be used to guard ATMs at the height of the banking crisis if capital controls were introduced.

As Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore would have also been intimately involved in any discussions like this, and has shed some light on what exactly was said.

30/4/2014. Pathways to Work Reports Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

He met with Kenny and Honohan to consider what would happen if Ireland found itself outside of the eurozone.

We talked about what would we need to do to relaunch the punt. How quickly could it be printed? What would happen in the meantime? We would have to close the banks. How long would they be closed? We weren’t quite sure. What would happen while they were closed? What would happen people who couldn’t get money out of the ATMs?

Gilmore says the possibility of “public disorder, of panic” was considered, and the decision was made to contact gardaí and the Defence Forces to discuss what security measures would be needed.

I recall somebody saying, ‘Oh my god, will we have to have soldiers guarding the ATM machines?’

However, he said it wasn’t the Central Bank governor, but it is an image that stuck in Kenny’s head.

How does his successor feel about how she is portrayed in the memoir?

Kenny launches Pathways to Work scheme Source: Niall Carson/PA Wire

One of the most publicised remarks from the book is a comment made to a senior civil servant after the first cabinet meeting when Joan Burton took over the role.

Although Gilmore says he had no great expectations about being kept on in a ministerial position, Burton had indicated beforehand that her mind was not made up on what appointments would be made – Gilmore “read the signals wrong”.

Probably what I was disappointed at was that it was a case of being marched down the corridor and being summarily dismissed. And it was for that reason, when I was coming out of the meeting and ran into the secretary general of the government and he asked me what was the score, and I think it was a bit gallows humour that I said: ‘I have just been court-martialled and I am to be shot at dawn’.

Gilmore said that he spoke to Burton on Friday night, after he had passed a copy of the book along to ‘her people’, and that it wasn’t mentioned. He thinks how Burton is portrayed in the book is going to help her in the general election.

It is also revealed that Burton was disappointed at being handed the social protection portfolio, and would have preferred foreign affairs.

3. Does he regret saying ‘It’s Labour’s way or Frankfurt’s way’?

Source: Brian Greene/YouTube

“No I don’t, actually.”

Gilmore recalled that he came up with this phrase in response to fact that Fine Gael was “trouncing” Labour, and that he felt the message that the party would renegotiate the bailout conditions wasn’t getting through.

It was one of those slogans you come up in order to make an impact. It made more of an impact and survived in the memory for a lot longer than perhaps it should have.

And the Gilmore for Taoiseach posters? This was an idea originally conceived by Labour Youth as ‘a bit of fun’, that later took on a life of its own.

And The Every Little Hurts ad? It was put together “in good faith” at the time.

original (2) Source: Irish Election Literature

How close did he come to bringing down the government?

Gilmore says he mentally drafted how he would pull Labour out of the coalition government around the time of the resignation of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

He says he found out that Callinan had decided to retire on a Tuesday morning before a cabinet meeting. The Taoiseach had requested for Gilmore to meet with him and the then secretary general of the Department of Justice urgently, before a pre-cabinet meeting with his fellow Labour ministers.

Adrian Donohoe death Source: Julien Behal/PA Wire.

The Taoiseach revealed the information received on the previous Sunday about the recording of phone calls at garda stations:

I was very annoyed that I hadn’t been informed of this in the intervening two days.

Gilmore says he used this to push for the establishment of the Policing Authority. However, it was the crucial letter from Callinan that would have tipped the balance. He said it was not brought to that attention of anyone prior to cabinet.

If it had transpired that the Taoiseach or the Minister for Justice had known about that letter before the cabinet meeting and had not told me about it, that would have been the end of the government.

His resignation process as Labour leader “hurt”

Gilmore says he was prepared to step down as leader of his party before a no confidence motion was heard, as after the disastrous result of the local and European elections he felt the party no longer fully supported him.

But this wasn’t what hurt, it was the speed at which it was done. Gilmore says he wasn’t given time to inform one of his sons, who he had not been able to contact, or his staff, who were about to lose their jobs.

Source: Hugh O'Connell/YouTube

He will still be out and about until the election, he says, and will be canvassing in his constituency for his successor, Carrie Smyth.

He hasn’t been asked to take part in any national campaign, however.

Read: Eamon Gilmore has been given a job helping the peace process in Colombia >

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Nicky Ryan

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