‘I thought this was going to be a nice fluffy interview’ – Pat Rabbitte gets grilling on Sean O’Rourke
He may have just announced his intention to retire from politics – however Sean O’Rourke didn’t cut Labour TD Pat Rabbitte any slack on Radio One this morning.
The veteran Labour TD, first elected in 1989, will not contest the next General Election in Dublin South West.
“In my own case I’ll be 67 when the next Dail convenes, and that’s regarded as a normal retirement age”.
O’Rourke suggested he’d taken ‘the hump’ after being demoted from cabinet in last year’s reshuffle.
“It’s been a year now since the cabinet reshuffle, I don’t think anyone can say that. I have promoted and advocated for the party consistently over the last 12 months.”
Mr. Rabbitte said that he was proud of what his austerity government had achieved in the last few years.
"You can hammer me all you like for the sins of the past but surely we deserve credit for turning the country around".
He acknowledged the rise in popularity of Independent TDs such as Catherine Murphy, but said that they were not a viable alternative to the traditional political parties.
" They can't even agree on the allocation of speaking time in the Dail".
O'Rourke reminded him of one of the seminal moments of his political career, his dramatic comments to the Dail during the Fr. Brendan Smyth controversy, whereby he claimed that a document was circulating in Government Buildings which if made public would 'rock the state to its foundations'.
In response, Mr Rabbitte said "One uses the theatre of parliament as best as one can to articulate one's point of view."
He conceded that the biggest mistake Labour had made was 'mistiming' in relation to breaking the Haughey embezzlement scandal which head to the establishment of the Moriarty Tribunal. It lead to Mr Rabbitte's party losing the 1997 general election by 3 or 4 seats.
When pressed by O'Rourke on his future plans, and asked if there was any truth to Brendan Howlin's comments that he may take a job in commercial radio, Mr. Rabbitte refused to be drawn.
"When the current Dail term finishes I will scratch my head and look at the sky and take a bit of time to think and reflect. For the first time in 44 years I have nothing lined up."