Labour 'tyre kicker' jibe sparks furious response
Published 17/09/2010 | 05:00
ENTERPRISE Minister Batt O'Keeffe launched a stinging attack on Labour leader Eamon Gilmore last night, calling him a "political tyre kicker with no costed roadmap for recovery".
Hitting back, Mr Gilmore said the minister should have better things to do than surfing the net so he can go "cat-calling and name-calling".
The sharp exchanges followed the minister's claims that he had been examining Labour's 52 published policy documents on its website and concluded that its alternative policies have "no credibility".
The minister claimed the policy documents come nowhere near offering a Labour alternative and expose as "absurd" the notion that Mr Gilmore could be an effective Taoiseach.
Labour has refused to say how it will cut €3bn from the country's finances in the Budget, leaving it open to criticisms from the likes of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and Mr O'Keeffe in recent days.
"Labour says it is ready to lead. But increasingly Deputy Gilmore is being exposed as a political tyre-kicker who trades on public anxieties in a recession without offering a credible roadmap for recovery," Mr O'Keeffe said.
In a hard-hitting response, the Labour leader accused the minister of surfing the net when he should be trying to address the fact that 450,000 people have lost their jobs.
"Mr O'Keeffe is one of the senior economic ministers in this government, a minister who is presiding over the highest level of unemployment we've ever had, and what's he doing? Surfing the web to dig up something that he can go cat-calling and name-calling at the Labour Party," Mr Gilmore said.
And he challenged Mr O'Keeffe to put Fianna Fail and Labour's policies to the test by calling a General Election.
The sharp exchange of views came at the end of Labour's two-day think-in in Roscommon.
The minister kicked off his criticisms on Monday when he claimed Mr Gilmore did not have the "bottle for a battle" and was constantly resorting to "designer rage".
But Mr Gilmore said the Labour Party is determined to win the next election and do "whatever is necessary" to turn the country's finances around.
Fianna Fail is increasingly attacking the Labour Party as it attempts to win the support of disgruntled Fianna Fail voters.
Labour's rise in the opinion polls has been attributed to Fianna Fail supporters switching to Labour and not Fine Gael.