Wednesday 25 April 2018

Noonan holds hand up over interview blunder

FINE Gael's new finance spokesman Michael Noonan has been busy bashing the Government for their mistakes -- and also admitting his own, writes Michael Brennan.

He has earned a reputation as a straight talker, so it was refreshing to hear him live up to this yesterday by acknowledging that he had got it wrong when he criticised one of his party's key policies.

He had dismissed the Fine Gael NewEra policy promise to create more than 100,000 jobs through upgrading the country's infrastructure, saying he frankly didn't believe it.

"Simon Coveney was the author of that particular policy document and if you look at it, the figure of 100,000 jobs doesn't appear anywhere in it, that seems to be some kind of a public relations add-on that enthusiastic people attached to it," he said then.

It was manna from heaven for Fianna Fail, whose press office quickly picked up on the early morning interview on Newstalk's breakfast show and got Junior Minister Dara Calleary to fire off a statement saying Mr Noonan had "publicly rubbished" his own party's job strategy.

But yesterday, Mr Noonan came out with his hands up and made amends for his undiplomatic remarks.

"I handled that particular interview badly," he said.

He was not so convincing on RTE's 'This Week' when he said that he now believed the Fine Gael NewEra plan could create between 90,000-110,000 jobs -- that's a big change in attitude in the space of a week.

Mr Noonan most recently made a major impact when he spoke movingly about his wife's Alzheimer's disease on RTE's 'Frontline' -- and how he would allocate more funding to carers for those suffering from the disease if he was ever health minister again.

But Mr Noonan will also know he cannot afford many more major slip-ups. It's okay to criticise one key party policy and then back down, but he will put more noses out of joint in Fine Gael if he does it repeatedly.

Irish Independent

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