FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin was last night forced to deny he kept Tanaiste Mary Coughlan "hidden" during the general election campaign.
Ms Coughlan made her first high-profile appearance in the election campaign yesterday to launch her party's education manifesto.
And she immediately prompted an angry reaction from one teacher union after claiming an extra year of teacher-training in colleges is needed because teachers are not graduating with the "requisite skills".
When asked about her absence from the national election campaign, the Tanaiste and Education Minister, who is struggling to secure her seat in Donegal South-West, side-stepped the question.
She bizarrely responded by saying Fianna Fail was the only party that had "taken the time to launch the most important part of the future of young people, which is education".
When quizzed again if she was being "hidden away", her party leader interrupted and said: "Absolutely not."
The Tanaiste has previously proven gaffe-prone at media set-pieces, having erroneously referred to the theory of evolution as having been formulated by Einstein.