THE Government was hit by its first backbench rebellion yesterday as a maverick TD launched a broadside on Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore was left red-faced after party TD Tommy Broughan made stinging criticisms of the Coalition's economic policy.
Mr Broughan compared the Taoiseach with "the captain of the Titanic" when it came to dealing with the reality of the economy. He agreed with the analysis of UCD economist Professor Morgan Kelly, who has said that Ireland should pull out of the IMF-EU deal.
The attack reflected a sense of unease in a section of Labour.
A handful of Labour backbenchers gave a noticeably cool reception to Finance Minister Michael Noonan's announcement of the jobs budget, declining to applaud his speech.
Senior Labour sources pointed to a history of Mr Broughan going against the official party line. "It's Tommy being Tommy," a source said.
During the previous Dail, while Labour was in opposition, Mr Broughan broke ranks from the party on issues like the stag hunting ban.
He also voted against the Programme for Government agreed with Fine Gael and Labour.
However, Mr Gilmore does not intend to take any action against Mr Broughan.
A spokesman said: "As a TD, Tommy Broughan is entitled to his own opinions. However, what he says does not necessarily reflect government policy. The Government has already stated that it is committed to bringing the deficit below 3pc in 2015."
Mr Broughan told the Dail there must be a fundamental restructuring of the bailout.
"Prof Kelly's prediction of imminent national bankruptcy has, as expected, been shrugged off by the Government, which is still negotiating desperately just to get a 1pc cut in the bailout interest rate," he said.
"The Taoiseach, with all the insouciance of the captain of the Titanic, continues to sail towards the iceberg of national bankruptcy and ruin."