Dempsey rounds on critic who called for his axing
Transport Minister Noel Dempsey last night got involved in a spat with a Fianna Fail activist who called for him to be dropped from the Cabinet.
FF national executive member Jerry Beades called last week for a half dozen ministers to be sacked by Taoiseach Brian Cowen in a reshuffle.
At a meeting of FF's ruling body last night, Mr Beades repeated his call with Mr Cowen sitting in front of him at the top table.
The Taoiseach spoke passionately about the party in response to comments from various members of the executive at the meeting in the FF parliamentary party rooms in Leinster House.
The meeting, attended by about 90 members -- ministers, TDs, senators and grassroots representatives from across the country -- also heard former minister Gerry Collins give a presentation on party reorganisation.
Mr Collins has been tasked with making recommendations for Fianna Fail to regroup after last year's disastrous local and European elections.
But Mr Dempsey turned on Mr Beades, his critic who went public with his views on RTE last week, with some personal remarks.
Giving his assessment of the grassroots feeling in the wake of the Willie O'Dea controversy, Mr Beades last week called for Mr Cowen to axe six cabinet members, including Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and Mr Dempsey.
Within hours of Mr Beades' comments, Mr Cowen was in Mr Dempsey's home county of Meath. At a media briefing, Mr Cowen was asked about the call for the scalps of six ministers -- "including the one standing to your left, Noel Dempsey", as one journalist pointed out.
Mr Dempsey appeared to grin through gritted teeth.