Wednesday 13 December 2017

Chief Whip accused of acting 'entirely inappropriately' in Dáil corridor snub newspaper interview

Chief Whip at war with Fine Gael colleague over Dáil corridor snub

Helen McEntee (left) and Regina Doherty
Helen McEntee (left) and Regina Doherty

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty has been accused of acting "entirely inappropriately" after she publicly criticised Junior Mental Health Minister Helen McEntee for not saying hello to her in Leinster House.

Asked in a newspaper interview if she had a working relationship with her constituency colleague, Ms Doherty said: "No, not at all and I have no idea why.

"She would walk past me in the corridor and wouldn't even blink her eyes."

The long-running spat between the Meath East constituency rivals is now set to be discussed internally by Fine Gael after Ms McEntee reacted angrily to her colleague's comments.

"They are utterly inappropriate comments to make about a colleague. I intend to address the matter internally in the party," she told the Irish Independent.

However, Ms McEntee would not say who in the party she intended to raise the matter with.

Constituency and party colleagues Regina Doherty and Helen McEntee
Constituency and party colleagues Regina Doherty and Helen McEntee

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock also said it was "deeply inappropriate" for a chief whip, who is "supposed to be instilling discipline" in the party, to attack a colleague in public.

Rivalry

"It would have been much better if she had tried to resolve this privately," he said.

The McEntee and Doherty families have been at a war in the Meath constituency for more than 10 years. The rivalry stems back to when Ms Doherty was on Meath County Council with Ms McEntee's father Shane McEntee.

A senior Cabinet member said yesterday that Taoiseach Enda Kenny had a "serious problem on his hands" after Ms Doherty became embroiled in another controversy.

"Kenny will have to be seen to act swiftly on this. It's not the first time she has got herself in trouble over comments she has made in public," the minister said.

Before Christmas, Ms Doherty suggested that she would be willing to resign from Cabinet if EirGrid plans to install overhead pylons in her constituency went ahead.

She also said she supported actions of civil disobedience by those campaigning against pylons.

Ms Doherty did not respond to requests for comment but her spokeswoman said: "No story to comment on I'm afraid."

Irish Independent

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