Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has said it would be "very positive" if Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore moved from the Department of Foreign Affairs to a domestic ministry to allow him to concentrate more on building support for the Labour Party.

The Labour Party minister was speaking in Cork, where she was canvassing with Labour candidates in the local and European elections.

She acknowledged that Labour has a lot of work to do given that opinion polls have put support for the party at below 10%.

Asked if Mr Gilmore would have to move to another Government department to halt the slump, Ms Burton said people in the party had made it clear over a lengthy period that they would appreciate it if Mr Gilmore was able to work full-time in a ministry at home.

Ms Burton said Mr Gilmore had indicated through spokespeople that this was his desire and she thought it would be very positive if that happened.

She said she did not accept that Mr Gilmore had taken his "eye off the ball" domestically.

Ms Burton also said she believed the fall in support for Labour was attributable to some of the issues that had recently arisen in the Department of Justice.

These were matters that came to light during the current administration but which went back for decades, she added.

However, speaking this afternoon, fellow Labour minister Pat Rabbitte said there is a certain amount of misunderstanding about the role of Mr Gilmore as Minister for Foreign Affairs and the impact it has on his role as Labour Party leader. 

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said the workload of other ministers in Government would result in them spending as much time abroad as Mr Gilmore.

He said any Cabinet reshuffle would be a matter for the Taoiseach.