It was with a confident stride that Eamon Gilmore took to the streets of Longford town on Thursday last. The leader of the Labour Party began his tour at the EDI (Employment Development and Information) Centre where he joined his colleague Cllr Mae Sexton on her local canvass trail.
During a brief tour of the training centre, which included an introduction to the REVAMP project and a meeting with some of the centre’s 150 trainees, Deputy Gilmore told the Leader that he was confident of securing two seats in the Longford Westmeath constituency.
“We have two really excellent candidates. Willie Penrose who has represented the constituency for quite some time as a Labour Party TD and [now] Mae Sexton...and the returns that we are getting from our cavassing in both counties are suggesting to us that we can win the two seats,” he said.
Among those present at the EDI Centre were former employees of the B3 Cable Solutions company which closed last year leaving 106 people unemployed in Longford. Deputy Gilmore told those gathered that a government involving Labour would work towards ensuring that EU legislation would be changed so that companies could not “border-hop” without first meeting their obligations to their existing employees.
Deputy Gilmore proceeded to compliment the EDI on their work and pointed out the importance of training centres in these straightened times.
“We should look at people losing their jobs as their first day out of work being the first day on the road back to work. That means that we have to invest in training and education to ensure that people upskill and that people have valuable work to do in the period while they are out of the main workforce,” he said.
Looking at a possible two seat breakdown for Fine Gael and Labour respectively Deputy Gilmore justified his party’s national advertising strategy (“Every Little Hurts”) stating that this was a “competitive election”.
“In our view Fine Gael have not been straight with people about what they are planning to do. Today (Thursday) for example we looked at their intention to cut the child benefit. The strategy that Fine Gael is pursuing as far as the budget is concerned in our view is not the right strategy.”
Deputy Gilmore and his entourage then took to the streets of Longford before finally arriving at a meeting of the Longford Women’s Manifesto Group. There the Labour Party leader addressed the issue of female representation in politics.
“On the issue of women in politics the Labour Party has the highest proportion of women and we’d like it to be more. We really would and we are going to work all the time to increase the participation in politics. As it happens in this constituency we already have a very balanced team in Willie Penrose and Mae Sexton,” he said.
He also addressed the question of education support for Travellers.
“We will ensure that Traveller children will be able to continue right through the system. It is so important for people to get the best opportunties out of education, to go all the way into employment and have the same opportunties as everyone else,” he said.