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Eamon Gilmore reveals the government nearly collapsed THREE times

The former tánaiste was formally launching his book in Dublin this evening.

Eamon Gilmore
Eamon Gilmore
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

EAMON GILMORE HAS revealed that the government was “close to the edge” three times when he was Tánaiste and said the closest it came to collapsing was over the promissory note.

The former Labour leader formally launched his book, Inside the Room: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Crisis Government, in Dublin this evening. While much of its contents have already been revealed, Gilmore offered a little more insight when speaking to reporters at the launch.

The book discloses how Gilmore mentally drafted pulling Labour out of government at the time of Martin Callinan’s resignation as Garda Commissioner, but he said this evening that there were two other occasions when it was close to falling.

Speaking to reporters at the Royal Irish Academy, Gilmore said: “There were actually three occasions when I think we were close to the edge in terms of the life of the government.

“There was the Budget negotiations, which took place at the end of 2012, on the 2013 Budget. There was the payment of the promissory note – or the question of paying the promissory note.

The third was if it had turned out that the letter, which the then-garda commissioner sent to the Department of Justice, if it had turned out… that the Taoiseach or the Minister for Justice had had that letter before the cabinet meeting, then there would have been a fundamental breach in trust between the two parties and it would have caused the end of the government.”

“But of the three, I think the one that we came closest [to pulling out] was probably over the promissory note.”

The negotiations over Budget 2013 refers to coalition talks in late 2012 when Labour pushed for an increase in Universal Social Charge on high earners, before Fine Gael pushed back with a proposal to cut social welfare.

Eventually a compromise – where neither of the two measures were implemented – was reached.

The promissory note controversy refers to infamous €3.1 billion payment that had been due in March 2013 prior to the deal to liquidate IBRC and swap the debt repayment for a more sustainable long-term arrangement.

Gilmore, whose book was launched by ex-Press Ombudsman John Horgan tonight, said he believes Joan Burton is doing a good job as his successor.

He said that far from harming his party his book will actually help Labour in the lead-up to the next election, saying:

“I think it will help the party because this book tells the story of how we came into government at the beginning of 2011 – when the country was broke, we were running out of money, the banks were in danger of closing down, there were people queuing up at bank counters in Newry and in Northern Ireland to change their euros into sterling, we were losing 7,000 jobs a month – and we turned it around.

He said he hopes the present government will be re-elected with Joan Burton as Tánaiste and did not rule out a return to elected politics in the future.

The outgoing TD for Dún Laoghaire said: “I think it’s unlikely that I will stand for election again, but you never know. If there’s an issue that I am motivated about, or a set of issues, who knows.”

However, he ruled out a bid for the presidency with a firm “no” when asked.

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

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

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Hugh O'Connell

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