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'I exploded': 5 fascinating stories from Eamon Gilmore's new book

The stuff you haven’t already read about.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

EAMON GILMORE HAS made some pretty strong revelations in his new book about how close he came to leaving government and the swift way in which he was sacked from cabinet last year.

The former tánaiste has published his account of his three years at the heart of the current government, Inside the Room: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Crisis Government.

The book has been pored over by politicos who’ve got their hands on it this week.

While you’ve probably read about the juiciest bits already, we’ve picked out a few more anecdotes that will interest you.

1. Phone calls from John O’Donoghue 

Gilmore is widely credited with having forced the resignation of Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue in October 2009 over an expenses scandal.

In his book, Gilmore recalls how O’Donoghue rang him on the way back from a conference in Limerick as the Labour leader prepared to raise the issue at Leaders’ Questions on the day that he ended up resigning:

He pleaded with me not to, arguing that the Oireachtas Commission was where it should be addressed. I told him I considered it to be too serious at this stage to be passed on to a private committee meeting. It would be unthinkable, I told him, for the opposition not to raise it.  He rang a second time pleading with me not to proceed, but again I refused, saying I believed the matter would not go away even if it was referred to the Commission.

Gilmore goes onto outline how he was recommending a motion of no confidence in the Ceann Comhairle which prompted O’Donoghue’s resignation later that day. He insists he felt “no sense of achievement or satisfaction”.

Source: cianflah/YouTube

“It was a necessary outcome, but travelling home that night I felt bad about what I had had to do,” he adds.

2. A meeting with Enda in 2008 

Gilmore writes that he had never discussed the prospect of governing with Enda Kenny until after the 2011 election, but does recall a conversation three years beforehand. At the Democratic Party Convention in the US in August 2008 he had breakfast with the Fine Gael leader:

“We talked about the prospects for forming a government after the next election,” he said, noting that he was “anxious” to avoid a Mullingar Accord-type deal that Kenny had negotiated with Gilmore’s predecessor, Pat Rabbitte, prior to the 2007 election.

So I told Enda, that while I was open to a Fine Gael/Labour coalition after the election there would be no pre-election pact, that Labour would campaign on its own policies and that he should understand that this might often put Labour and Fine Gael at odds in opposition.

3. The “strong whiff of misogyny”

7/6/2012 New High Court Judges Máire Whelan Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Gilmore writes about the hitherto unpublicised battle to make Máire Whelan the Attorney General. He recalls a campaign against her appointment that began among a small number of legal figures:

They lobbied colleagues, some on behalf of other possible contenders, but also just to block the appointment of Máire. There was a strong whiff of misogyny in some of the comments.

He writes of how Kenny fumed at the idea of appointing a political figure (Whelan was Labour’s financial secretary) to such an important position in government.

Gilmore says he pointed out to Kenny that serving TDs had previously been appointed to the role and told him that they would have to “learn to trust each other” as they embarked on a coalition government:

He paused, and then held out his hand. We shook on it. It was the beginning of a new working relationship between the two of us.

4. The ignored text 

You may recall that Gilmore was out of the loop on the day that Alan Shatter resigned as justice minister in May 2014. Speaking at a Labour campaign launch in Castleknock that day Gilmore said the Guerin report into allegations by garda whistleblowers, which prompted Shatter’s departure, had not been delivered to the Taoiseach.

In fact, it had, and by that stage, unbeknownst to the Tánaiste, Shatter had resigned.

screenshot.1446745722.63709 Source: www.thejournal.ie

Gilmore reveals that he could have known all of this had he not ignored a text from the Taoiseach prior to speaking to the media at the event.

Just before the event started, I noticed a text message from the Taoiseach: ‘Eamon can you take a call?’ I assumed it was about a difference of opinion on an unrelated matter which had arisen that morning between our respective Chiefs of Staffs, the two Marks [Mark Kennelly and Mark Garrett], and decided to leave it for the moment.

It was only when he returned to Leinster House – and he was asked to urgently meet the Taoiseach – did Gilmore learn of Shatter resigning. Despite ignoring Kenny’s text, the former tánaiste still feels he was being “kept in the dark once again”.

5. The state of the nation spat 

Gilmore writes extensively about strained relations with Fine Gael, noting how he “exploded” over a jobs announcement in his constituency which was attended by the Taoiseach and senior ministers without his knowledge.

He also recalls how Fine Gael were less than forthcoming about the circumstances leading up to Enda Kenny’s address to the nation in December 2013 as Ireland formally exited the bailout programe:

enda sotn

Mark Garrett [Gilmore's chief of staff] and Cathy Madden [Gilmore's press secretary] challenged their Fine Gael counterparts, who claimed RTÉ had offered the broadcast. Mark and Cathy went to see RTÉ management, who said that Fine Gael personnel had requested the broadcast on behalf of the Government. Not only that, but apparently RTÉ enquired of Fine Gael if the Labour Party was agreeable to the arrangement, the Fine Gael people had assured them that we were!

Gilmore concludes that some in Fine Gael were turning tribal and, if allowed to continue, it would only do harm to the government.

Read: Joan Burton has spoken about having Eamon Gilmore ‘shot at dawn’

Read: Eamon Gilmore admits he didn’t pay attention to the cuts in THAT ad

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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