Minister Coveney: Ruairi Quinn 'rally the troops' speech 'fuelled by emotion'
Defence Minister Simon Coveney has insisted Ruairi Quinn's broadside when he said the Labour Party had defeated 'the Fine Gaelers' will not sully relations between the coalition partners.
He described it as an attempt to "rally the troops" ahead of the election.
The Fine Gael minister said some people may try to use the comments to "drive a wedge" between both parties, but relations will continue to remain positive between both sides.
During an impromptu speech made at the Labour Party's think-in in Wicklow on Monday, Mr Quinn told supporters the party has defeated 'the Fine Gaelers, the Fianna Fáiler's and the Free Staters'.
“And we have defeated the Fine Gaelers and the Free Staters, and we have defeated the Fianna Fáilers and the nationalists.
"And we have brought this country into the 21st century and without the Labour Party we would not be here today," he added.
The outgoing TD received rapturous applause as he described himself as an 'unconstructed' socialist.
However, Mr Coveney said the comments were fuelled by emotion, and must be put in the context in which they were made.
"This was talk at a party think-in; I wouldn't read a whole lot in it," he said.
"I suspect he was trying to rally the troops in terms of encouraging the Labour Party as they prepare for the general election."
Speaking to independent.ie, he insisted relations between both parties are "really good."
"I think people will look to try and use comments made by Ruairi to drive a wedge between the parties but I don't think that's going to happen.
"I sit next to Brendan Howlin in Cabinet and he's become a really good colleague and friend of mine.
"The relationship between Fine Gael and Labour is probably better now than it's been for...well actually, I think it's always been a pretty good relationship, but it certainly is a very good relationship now.
"There are very firm commitments from both parties to work with each other going into the election, and to ask voters to support the other party after they support their own," he added.
Mr Coveney was speaking at the Certified Public Accountants in Ireland Annual President’s Dinner in Trinity College.