Sunday 25 August 2019

'Are you just a baby or acting like a baby?' Stormy scenes in the Dail as Joan Burton clashes with opposition over housing crisis

Tanaiste Joan Burton
Tanaiste Joan Burton

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

THERE were stormy scenes in the Dáil today as Tánaiste Joan Burton clashed with members of the Opposition over the housing crisis.

The Labour Party leader went on the offensive, accusing Fianna Fail of being afraid of entering Government, while hitting out at Sinn Fein over the its approach to welfare reform in the North.

But during a bizarre 'Leaders' Questions, Ms Burton and Opposition TDs hurled personal insults at each other.

After clashing over the issue of variable mortgage rates and the housing crisis, Ms Burton told Fianna Fáil's environment spokesperson:

"Are you just a baby or acting like a baby."

She added that Fianna Fail's "histrionics" would "fill the Abbey theatre" on a nightly basis.

 "If you want an answer then you just have to shut up for a while and listen," Ms Burton continued.

The Tanaiste also referred to claims by a number of Fianna Fail TDs today that they are opposed to entering Government with Fine Gael.

Referring to Fianna Fail TD Billy Kelleher as a "comic", Ms Burton said:

"Are you asking me to respect a party that claims to be a vital force in Irish politics but is not going to be in government."

But the exchanges between Mr Cowen and Ms Burton continued as she was responding to questions from Sinn Fein's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald.

Mr Cowen interjected several times, claiming that Ms Burton has "gone cuckoo... you're in la la land."

But Ms Burton's attacking style continued during exchanges with Ms McDonald.

The Dublin Central TD claimed that the Government's message to distressed mortgage holders appears to be to "shop around".

"Can I suggest you and your band of merry men are the only people happy on this issue," Ms McDonald said.

Ms Burton hit back accusing Sinn Fein of being the "champions at folding" on important issues, referring to its stance on welfare reform in the North.

Mr Cowen also reacted angrily after Ms Burton mentioned his brother and former Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

During a discussion on the issue of local councils, Ms Burton said the ex-Fianna Fail had brought forward the current rates valuation system.

Mr Cowen claimed by doing so, Ms Burton was "personalising" the debate.

"You came bring someone up who was here five years ago all you like... to get at me," he said.

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