LABOUR Party leader Eamon Gilmore balanced pledges in many different directions during his visit to Portlaoise last week, with an insistence that promises and ego were not on his agenda.
Civil servants, farmers, mortgage holders, the unemployed and local business all got a mention during his visit to the Laois Offaly constituency last Friday. The leader braved bad weather with his candidate John Whelan to meet locals, albeit the few that were around on a quiet afternoon in Laois’s county town.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Gilmore was not expecting clashes with Enda Kenny if the two men are in Government because “neither of us are big on ego.” He was also pleased that political party’s had not engaging in “promise politics”.
However, he was making pledges during his visit - the first in relation to mortgages.
“The Labour Party’s proposal in relation to the mortgage problem was to focus on repossession. We have for some time argued that nobody should be allowed to lose their home during this recession,” he said, adding that rent allowances and mortgage relief could be reharnessed to stop people from losing their homes.
The safety of public service jobs was also raised by both reporters and the public. “I’m a public servant are you going to look after me?” was the direct question posed by Department of Agriculture employee Christina Troy. Mr Gilmore put reform ahead of cuts.
“It’s a very important question. We have made it very clear that there won’t be compulsory redundancies but there is a need for a reform,” he said.
As for farmers, Mr Gilmore said agriculture and food was a major plank of Labour’s jobs’ policy. He said Labour was already “ahead of the game” in preparing for the common agricultural policy which would have to be renegotiated in the lifetime of the next Government.
Mr Gilmore said the sugar beet industry should not have been shut down. He also used the sugar industry as an example why State companies should not be privatised.
He said Labour backed carbon taxes but a productive food industry would generate jobs.
Mr Gilmore also met business people on his visit. He committed to backing green enterprises and pledged to address the concerns raised by Katherine Dennehy of the Unicare pharmacy at the Laois Shopping Centre.
He said he had been brought to the almost vacant IDA park in Portlaoise and believed that there were options. He said the park was ready for “technology and research centres” which would attract a cluster of specialised home-grown businesses.