Today we launched our Children's Referendum campaign which is asking people to vote Yes on November 10th.
Speaking at the launch, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said: "It is our tragedy, as a nation, that some of the darkest moments in our history are a direct consequence of children's interests, and children's right to be cared for and protected, being ignored. This referendum is our opportunity to right that wrong. To state clearly and unequivocally that we, the Irish people, value children and childhood."
"Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are committed to the budget plans in the IMF/EU deal, which pose an excessive risk to Ireland's chance of recovery. They are comfortable with the Celtic Tory Consensus that embraces austerity, at any price.
Labour is clear on the need to bring down the deficit, but the Irish economy needs surgery, not butchery. What Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil want to do is high risk and could kill the patient."
I welcome the fact that at long last the people of Ireland will have their say in a General Election which is long overdue. The Taoiseach has announced his retirement from politics and I want to wish him and his family the very best for the future. He and I have clashed in robust debate. He has always stood by his position and I have stood by mine and now our parties will put our case to the verdict of the people.
We have just over 3 weeks to decide the future of our country.
From this point on, the future of Ireland lies in the hands of its people.
"We have had I think a lot of despondency over the past period of time with the recession, with the way in which the country has been run and I think it's time to move on and to solve the problems that we have. The Labour Party has a vision for this country.
Speaking during what he described as an 'unusual Order of Business' in the Dáil the Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore added 'it will bring to an end a dysfunctional and now diminished Government by the end of this week'.
"It sets a timeframe for the holding of a general election, which people all over the country are anxious to have, and which will enable them to make decisions about the future leadership of this country.
"It brings to an end a period of uncertainty and instability for our country and provides an opportunity for the country and its people to make a fresh start and move on from the recession and the political chaos that we have seen in recent times."
Deputy Sean Sherlock, Cork East with the Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore TD.
"When the Labour Party tabled its motion of no-confidence in the government on January 14th we made it clear we were doing so because of attempts by the government parties to renege on commitments given in November that a the Dail would be dissolved and a general election called by the end of January.
On Sunday I said that we would be willing to defer the motion of no-confidence provided that the government was willing to give a commitment that all stages of the Finance Bill would be taken by the end of the week. Earlier today, Joan Burton published a timetable showing how this could be done.
Eamon talking to reporters at today's press conference
The Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore TD this afternoon repeated his statement of this morning when he said the Labour Party would not proceed with our motion of no-confidence in the Government provided there is an unequivocal commitment that the Finance Bill would be enacted and the Dail dissolved by Friday.
Eamon said 'that offer still stands' rejecting Cowen's claim that it is impossible to complete all stages of the Bill before Friday.
"People at home and abroad have looked on in astonishment as this shambles of a government has disintegrated over the past week. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. We need certainty. The people need leadership and they need hope."
Eamon Gilmore with members of the PLP and election candidates speaking to journalists.
"The Irish people do not want this government to remain in office for another single day. They do not greatly care who leads Fianna Fail. They want a new government with a fresh mandate and the commitment and ability to get our country working and to get our people back to work," the Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore said today after Cowen announced he is step down as leader of Fianna Fail but will remain as Taoiseach.
Eamon told reporters that Labour will proceed with our motion of no-confidence in the Government next week in the Dail saying 'the issue is not simply about Mr. Cowen, but about the collective performance of this government and the need for a new start'.
"The Taoiseach is now doing everything he possibly can to move away from having his case tested in the Dáil and is delaying for as long as possible from having it tested in the country," Eamon Gilmore TD told the Dáil today.
"The country needs a new Government that can deal with the problems that are facing the people, can come to grips with the need to get people back to work, get some confidence back into the economy, get a fresh start and enable people to move on from the mess that Fianna Fail has created."
Speaking in the Dáil during Leaders' Questions, the Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore once again called on Cowen to let the people decide and call an election.
"The Taoiseach has given his party a secret ballot on his future as leader of the party and I wish him the best of luck. When will he give the people of the country a secret ballot to decide his and his Government's future as leaders of the country?