Tanaiste rejects 'cringe factor' slur
ENTERPRISE Minister Mary Coughlan last night denied there was a "cringe factor" attached to her when representing Ireland abroad.
Ms Coughlan said many nasty comments directed at her were politically motivated and insisted she represented Ireland with pride when overseas.
The comments come as speculation mounts that Taoiseach Brian Cowen will reorganise the economic departments as part of the reshuffle to provide a stronger focus on the major problems facing the country
He is said to be considering establishing a new economic department, tasked with job creation.
The removal of job training from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is just one of the functions expected to be carved up from that portfolio.
Such changes to Ms Coughlan's department are a clear indication her duties will be reduced by Mr Cowen.
Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar yesterday said Mr Cowen was considering breaking up the Tanaiste's department because he did not want to dismiss her completely.
But he pointed out that an audience member on RTE's 'The Frontline' had said there was a "cringe factor" in her representation abroad.
There were claims that IDA representatives were embarrassed by the Tanaiste on trade missions.
And others had said she was unable to speak to business people, because the language she used was often inappropriate and vulgar when on travel missions, he said.
However Ms Coughlan rejected the charge. "I appreciate very much that many of the nasty comments that have been made are politically motivated," she told the Dail.
"Perhaps the deputy should take the opportunity of seeing the work I have done on behalf of this country in working with the development agencies to ensure that we continue to have positive foreign direct investment in this country."