Saturday 19 August 2017

Ross launches Dáil tirade after Stepaside garda station reopens

Transport Minister Shane Ross and councillor Kevin Daly at the announcement of the reopening of Stepaside garda station.Photo: Justin Farrelly
Transport Minister Shane Ross and councillor Kevin Daly at the announcement of the reopening of Stepaside garda station.Photo: Justin Farrelly

Ralph Riegel and Ian Begley

Transport Minister Shane Ross had to respect Dáil rules as he launched a blistering attack on Fianna Fáil, recalling Micheál Martin's appointment of Celia Larkin to a State board.

Mr Ross has repeatedly come under criticism in the past 24 hours for a deal which saw Stepaside garda station in his constituency reopened.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin suggested there might be a link between the move and the lack of opposition from Mr Ross to the Cabinet's decision to appoint the outgoing Attorney General Máire Whelan to the second highest court in the country.

Mr Martin said: "Minister Ross and every member of cabinet who agreed these measures on Tuesday will carry a cloud of a squalid piece of low horse-trading until they fully explain what went on."

A furious Mr Ross told the Dáil that he only learned of the plan to nominate Ms Whelan to the Court of Appeal yesterday morning.

"There has been no link of any sort between the two," he said.

The minister then launched into a tirade against Fianna Fáil, saying: "I'm not going to take any lectures from FF on political appointments and particularly from Micheál Martin. Does he remember a woman by the name of Celia Larkin?

"She was appointed by him to the Consumer Agency."

Ms Larkin is the former partner of ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. "The person in question was appointed by Micheál Martin without interview, without conversation but she did happen to be his boss's partner," Mr Ross said.

He said Fianna Fáil had "stuffed" the judiciary with its own people but he was going to introduce the Judicial Appointments Bill next week which will change the old system which is "rotten".

In response Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath said Mr Ross had let himself down as a "fearless opponent of cronyism". He said when it came to making decisions, all his "principled opposition to cronyism... went up in the air like a puff of smoke".

Meanwhile, Labour leader Brendan Howlin had words of advice for Mr Varadkar. He said in the Dáil: "As Taoiseach, you cannot continue in a role of commentator. I hope you won't miss too much the proffering of pithy soundbites to Newstalk on issues of the day.

"We might miss those soundbites on issues such as the opening of the Garda station at Stepaside that coincidentally leaked out yesterday. But you must now be willing to lead."

Irish Independent

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