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Fine Gael forced to cancel first year in power celebrations as Labour refuses to party

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has denied he was rounding up Fine Gael TDs for a badly judged anniversary celebration which had to be cancelled after a withering attack by a senior Labour minister.

As AIB announced 2,500 redundancies, Mr Kenny's party spin doctors frantically moved to pull the plug on the "Government one year on" photocall.

Fine Gael TDs and Senators were lined up to hold coloured stars charting coalition successes.

The Taoiseach denied claims that he rallied TDs at the parliamentary party last night and reminded them to attend the anniversary photocall.

"I became aware of this this morning," said Mr Kenny.

The party was forced to rethink its celebration when it discovered its coalition partner Labour had no plans for a self-congratulatory pat on the back and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte launched this broadside.

"Any partisan gaiety like I understand these antics by some Fine Gael deputies, I hope they get over their excitement quickly," the Labour Dublin South West TD warned.

Mr Rabbitte said the Government is far from out of the woods and needs both parties to focus.

"We have had successes but we have failures and we have a long way to go," he said.

A Fine Gael spokesman announced the photocall, due to take place this afternoon in Dublin's Merrion Square, had been cancelled after Mr Rabbitte made his comments on RTE.

"This was an event that was organised or promoted over-enthusiastically by Fine Gael, but it's not going to happen," said Mr Kenny.

The Taoiseach insisted the mix-up had nothing to do with a lack of co-ordination between the coalition parties, and said he maintains "a very good working relationship" with Labour leader Eamon Gilmore.

"There are many ways you can mark anniversaries," Mr Kenny went on.

"I didn't consider this to be one of them."

But the Taoiseach went on to deny that the celebration was cancelled as a result of criticism from Labour's Mr Rabbitte.

Mr Kenny insisted the sole reason for cancelling the event was that he deemed it inappropriate.

"We are not here to seek any credit or look for any gold medals. Only fools seek credit in politics," he added.

"There are many ways of celebrating anniversaries. This is not one of them.

"We are focused on the work of delivering our Government mandate."

Irish Independent