Dempsey fails to retract verbal attack on activist
Transport Minister Noel Dempsey yesterday declined to retract accusations he made against a Fianna Fail activist who called for him to be sacked from the Cabinet.
Fianna Fail national executive member Jerry Beades published a series of letters which he claims show how Mr Dempsey failed to act on a planning controversy when he was Environment Minister.
Mr Dempsey and Mr Beades were involved in a high-profile spat at a meeting of the Fianna Fail national executive.
In his verbal attack, the minister accused Mr Beades of attempting to influence him in his office during a dispute between the businessman and Dublin Corporation.
Within Fianna Fail circles, there was widespread surprise at Mr Dempsey's reaction and it was regarded as ill-judged for a minister to get involved in such a public row in front of nearly 100 members of the party's ruling body.
Mr Beades set a deadline of 9am yesterday morning for the minister to withdraw his comments and apologise to him.
"I'm still waiting for him to retract it," he told the Irish Independent when asked for his view.
Mr Dempsey did not respond and a spokesman said he would not be commenting on the affair.
Social Welfare Minister Mary Hanafin would also not be drawn on the spat between Mr Dempsey and Mr Beades.
"Private matter for them. Not commenting on it," she said.
Mr Beades categorically rejected Mr Dempsey's accusations.
The documents he published last night include letters to Mr Dempsey, Charlie McCreevy, Mary Harney, Brendan Howlin and a number of officials.
Mr Beades won a case he took against Dublin Corporation, which ultimately cost the taxpayer an estimated €1m in legal fees.
Last week, on RTE's News At One, Mr Beades called for a half dozen ministers to be sacked by Taoiseach Brian Cowen in a reshuffle -- including Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern and Mr Dempsey.
He was giving his assessment of the grassroots feeling in the wake of the Willie O'Dea controversy when he made the remarks.
At Thursday night's meeting of FF national executive, Mr Beades repeated his call with Mr Cowen sitting in front of him at the top table.
But Mr Dempsey later turned on Mr Beades, unleashing his verbal attack to the surprise of many, who felt the issue was closed.