'Trump disgusts me - but I will work with him if I must' - Mary Mitchell O'Connor
Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor ignores 'restraint' request to blast Presidential candidate
The Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor has criticised the US presidential candidate Donald Trump just days after the Foreign Affairs Minister urged Fine Gael politicians to hold their fire.
Asked for her views for the Republican US presidential nominee, who is mired in controversy over sexual misconduct allegations, Ms O'Connor said: "I think that it is totally unacceptable the way he talks about women. And what really disgusted me was the way he spoke about people with disability. It is reprehensible."
In an inteview with the Sunday Independent, she said: "But if I had to work with him, if he is the president of the US, I will absolutely work with him and I will have a working relationship."
Her comments came days after Charlie Flanagan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, told his parliamentary colleagues to stop publicly attacking Trump - because it was still possible that he could win the election.
At a recent Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, sources reported Mr Flanagan said it was not appropriate to make disparaging remarks about him. Mr Flanagan confirmed to the Sunday Independent this weekend that he urged restraint.
"In the privacy of the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, I advised colleagues to be measured and non-partisan in their comments about the US election, with particular reference to Trump," he said.
Prominent Fine Gael members who have criticised Donald Trump include Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar: he described comments made by the Republican candidate as "crass" and "tasteless", in the wake of the massacre at an Orlando nightclub by a man who pledged allegiance to Isil.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has previously said that the world will have to learn to work with Mr Trump if he becomes president of the US.
In her interview with the Sunday Independent this weekend, Ms Mitchell O'Connor dismissed reports that "strips were torn off her" at a parliamentary party meeting over her record on delivering jobs to the regions. She said the meeting was "difficult" but she was "fighting for Ireland".
"They're fighting for their constituencies. I was like that when I was a TD. I used to hound Michael Noonan," she said.
Ms Mitchell O'Connor, who is on the Government's Brexit committee, said there has been "a significant number of inquiries" from financial services companies seeking to relocate from Ireland to the UK.
She said: "Obviously we will compete vigorously to win for Ireland. Again, some of the issues that have come up were a lack of affordable housing and childcare, so we also now have addressed that in the Budget."
Ms Mitchell O'Connor said her focus is on building strong relationships and she "can nearly say" that she has the mobile phone number of every chief executive she has met "and I can ring them or they will ring me. So I think that is really important, that I can communicate, and I suppose most importantly, I can listen. I think it's really important to listen."
She said her pre-Budget proposal - shot down by the Taoiseach - to entice back high-earning returning emigrants by offering them lower tax "wasn't 100pc" hers. She plans to revisit the issue of enticing emigrants home in the next budget.