Tuesday 16 January 2018

Backbench attacks on Bruton 'not co-ordinated'

THE Labour leadership yesterday denied orchestrating criticism by several party backbenchers of Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton's plans to cut the wages of lower-paid workers, writes Fionnan Sheahan.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte insisted it was wrong to say there was a co-ordinated attack on Mr Bruton, even though the Labour hierarchy signed off on a series of official statements from the party press office criticising the Fine Gael minister.

However, Mr Gilmore defended the right of TDs to speak out against Mr Bruton's proposed reforms to the Joint Labour Agreement system.

Critical statements from backbench Labour TDs were released officially by the party and were also sent to Mr Gilmore's advisers in Government, including chief of staff Mark Garrett, spokesperson Cathy Madden and policy advisor Dr Colm O'Reardon, as well as Labour general secretary Ita McAuliffe.

Labour TDs Michael McCarthy, Colm Keaveney, Robert Dowds, Sean Kenny, Derek Nolan and Kevin Humphreys -- all newly elected deputies -- issued statements criticising Mr Bruton, or his proposals, through the Labour Party press office.

Yet Mr Rabbitte said it was "utter, complete nonsense" to say there was a co-ordinated attack.

"You don't know Labour backbenchers if you think they need to get an injunction from the leader in order to make a statement," he added.

Mr Gilmore said individual TDs are entitled to express their opinions. "They didn't seek my blessing -- nor did I give my blessing," he said.

Irish Independent

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