Creating jobs and renegotiating the IMF/EU bailout will be among the Labour Party's priorities if it forms part of the next government, party leader Eamon Gilmore stated in Clonmel last week.
"Our first priority is getting people back to work", he stated. The Labour leader said he was conscious of the jobs lost in South Tipperary and election candidate Senator Phil Prendergast had spoken to him repeatedly about job losses in Bulmers and elsewhere.
He also believes that the negotiation of the IMF/EU bailout was "a necessity. The country was humiliated by that deal", he said.
According to Deputy Gilmore the deal was negotiated by a government on its last legs and in very weak conditions. It had been put together in a hurry and at a time when other fish were being fried in respect of the Euro and other member states.
"It's a bad deal for Ireland, Europe and the Euro", he said.
It needed to be renegotiated because it didn't contain an investment strategy. "It's all about what's going to be cut, it's all about the austerity measures and it's all about the pension reserve fund".
He predicted that the country wouldn't emerge from the economic crisis unless jobs were created and the economy grew.
Deputy Gilmore, who was in Clonmel to launch Senator Prendergast's election campaign, also believes it's important to separate the bank debts from the state.
"The worst decision made in this country was the decision to provide the blanket bailout (to the banks) in September 2008", he said.
He claimed the only party whose judgement was right on that occasion was the Labour party, even though they had been criticised at the time. Labour had argued that the bailout had tied the banks to the state and as they had subsequently seen those bank debts had "pulled the state down".
Deputy Gilmore said he was confident that Phil Prendergast would win a Dail seat. "If you look at the opinion polls, if the level of support that the Labour Party is getting in those polls is reflected in South Tipperary then Phil Prendergast can be elected".
He said that South Tipperary would be a key constituency in determining whether the next government would be led by Labour, and for that to happen it was "absolutely essential" that a Labour party TD was elected in South Tipp and North Tipp (where MEP Alan Kelly will stand).
He said the composition of the next government will come down to a contest between Fine Gael and Labour as to which party would lead the government, and the election of Senator Prendergast would be "absolutely critical to that".
He said it would be the first time in the history of the state that people would have the opportunity to elect a government that would be led by a party other than Fianna Fail or Fine Gael – "that has never happened before".
In order to be the largest party Labour would need to win more than 50 seats from the approximately 70 candidates that will it run.
However he also cautioned that "all of us have to be elected", and they had to be careful not to start talking about individual positions in the next government.
Deputy Gilmore said he noticed "a hunger for change all over the country" and the Labour party could deliver that change.
People wanted a change of government, a change in the way politics was done, a change in the running of the economy and a change in the way services are delivered, he added.