Taoiseach shrugs off Labour attack leaflet

Labour chairman Colm Keaveney says leaflet was ill judged

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that a Labour Party leaflet attacking him on the last day of the Meath East byelection campaign will not damage his relationship with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.

“I have no interest in the leaflet. It didn’t worry me one way or another because when you are in politics these things often happen,” he said.

Speaking to reporters after the 1916 Commemoration Ceremony at the GPO in Dublin he said that he had no interest in the personal politics of the byelection campaign.

“It doesn’t impact in any way on the very good, solid relationship I have with Eamon Gilmore as Tánaiste and leader of the Labour Party or indeed with the working of government in respect to implementing our programme,” he said.


Earlier, Labour Party chairman Colm Keaveney referred to the leaflet saying: “I think the attack on the Taoiseach on the last day was ill-judged.”

He said the issues Labour chose to fight on in the Meath East byelection were not the ones occupying the minds of the electorate.

Mr Keaveney said that the people he spoke to in his Galway East constituency were concerned with issues such as jobs, emigration and public services.

"The communications strategy in Meath East was poor and it sent out a weak message about the party," he said in an interview on RTÉ Radio One's This Week programme.

Mr Keaveney said that similar mistakes to the leaflet about the Taoiseach in Meath East were made during the last election.

“My firm belief is that there has been too much focus on communications and we have failed to tackle this issue. Labour needs to demonstrate humility with regard to broken promises made prior to the last general election,” he said.

Mr Keaveney added that a renegotiation of the programme for government is an immediate requirement for his party, in the wake of its poor performance in the Meath East byelection. He said the buck for the party’s failures stopped with the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and his Ministers.

Mr Keaveney said Labour needed to explain why it had not fulfilled the commitments it made in key social areas, including disability, employment and the mortgage crisis.

He said Labour needed to act decisively to restore its credibility with the electorate, and the party needed to stop chasing numbers and instead attract support based on its values.

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins

Stephen Collins is a columnist with and former political editor of The Irish Times