Thursday 8 December 2016

'I don't care what people say behind my back,' insists Mitchell O'Connor

Philip Ryan and Kevin Doyle

Published 28/10/2016 | 02:30

Enda Kenny with Mary Mitchell O’Connor yesterday at the announcement of Cubic Telecom’s creation of 60 jobs at its Dublin office. Photo: Andres Poveda
Enda Kenny with Mary Mitchell O’Connor yesterday at the announcement of Cubic Telecom’s creation of 60 jobs at its Dublin office. Photo: Andres Poveda

Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor has hit back at anonymous critics of her performance, saying fellow ministers should say it to her face if they have a problem.

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Ms Mitchell O'Connor, who has been the subject of weeks of back-biting in Leinster House, said her focus was entirely on her job rather than perceptions.

Last weekend, an article in 'The Irish Times' described her as a "leading back-bench brown noser" of Enda Kenny and made reference to her driving skills and use of nail polish.

Using anonymous quotes it claimed civil servants in her department were not impressed by their "new mistress" and also said Fine Gael TDs were bitter about her appointment.

But she told Independent.ie's Floating Voter podcast: "I don't mind, I don't care what people say about me. I don't care about their perceptions. They can judge me when I have the job done.

"I don't mind what they say behind my back but I'd probably prefer if they said it to my face. But what I am really interest in is making sure people who haven't got jobs, get jobs and that's what they want me to do and that's my job and that's what I am going to do."

Ms Mitchell O'Connor yesterday attended the announcement of 60 new jobs at Irish tech firm Cubic Telecom.

Read more: 'She wouldn't be getting half the criticism if she was a man' – Chief whip defends party colleague Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Taoiseach Enda Kenny defended his minister, rejecting suggestions that his public rebuttal of her proposal to bring in a special tax rate for returning emigrants had led to some of the criticism.

"No I don't accept that assertion at all. Mary Mitchell O'Connor is working with IDA and Enterprise Ireland, two strong world class players in terms of what they do, and obviously the Action Plan for Jobs is there nationally and broken down into eight regions.

"Her focus is to get 135,000 of the 200,000 new jobs into those regions and she is working very hard at that," he said.

Mr Kenny said he stood fully by his appointment.

"That is my choice and responsibility. As Taoiseach it falls to me to pick the members of Cabinet," he added.

"I chose Mary Mitchell O'Connor because of her experience, because of the fact she was involved in the activities of the parliamentary party before that and that is what is needed here. That is what she is working at and working well.

"It does take some time for every minister to become acquainted with their department. I have no fault with her doing her job and I expect her to focus on the business in hand. I have every confidence in her."

Listen to the Floating Voter podcast on Independent.ie.

Irish Independent

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