Tuesday 20 March 2018

Doherty and Rock in bitter row over Kenny

Chief Whip Regina Doherty Picture: Tom Burke
Chief Whip Regina Doherty Picture: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A bitter war of words has erupted between government chief whip Regina Doherty and her fellow Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, over his call for a timetable for Enda Kenny's departure as leader.

Ms Doherty hit out at her colleague saying she is "disappointed" at his intervention in the leadership issue, calling him "inexperienced" and a "young buck".

Mr Rock responded saying that Ms Doherty herself called for a Mr Kenny to set out a timetable to step aside as leader as far back as July. He said her remarks are "both disappointing and inappropriate".

The row started during a interview Ms Doherty gave to LMFM on Thursday when she said Mr Rock's call for Mr Kenny to set out a timeline for his departure "took a lot of us by surprise". She said this was because he is "inexperienced" and that he had nominated Mr Kenny to be Taoiseach four times in the Dáil.

It was suggested to her by presenter Michel Reade that Mr Rock was aligning himself with Minister Leo Varadkar in the upcoming leadership contest.

Ms Doherty said that it might have been pointed out to "the young buck" that his intervention had damaged Mr Varadkar potential bid to become leader.

Asked if she disliked Mr Rock, she replied: "he's an incredibly intelligent young man and obviously is quite ambitious but he's very young and inexperienced." She said she is "disappointed at his actions" given the support Mr Kenny and the party gave to his successful bid to win a Dáil seat.

Put to her that Mr Rock's remarks were the same as her comments last summer, she said the difference was she had answered a question on the issue "without thinking" and it was a "mistake". She said Mr Rock's intervention was "quite deliberate and that's what bothers me".

Noel Rock
Noel Rock

Last night Mr Rock said: "Regina is criticising a colleague for saying what she said herself last July, that a timeline is needed."

He said "a chief whip going on local radio and attacking her own colleagues isn't very appropriate". And he said it was the second time she had attacked a colleague recently.

Mr Rock was referring to Ms Doherty's previous comments about her constituency colleague Helen McEntee who would: "walk past me in the corridor and wouldn't even blink her eyes".

Ms McEntee last month described those remarks as "utterly inappropriate" and said she would address the matter internally in the party.

Mr Rock also said Ms Doherty "actively advocated against Government policy" when she criticised the North South Interconnector pylon plan.

"Given the support Fine Gael gave her in the last election, she might reflect on that, on her ill-judged comments, and on her second public attack on a colleague in as many months," he said. He said since he made his intervention in the leadership issue, both Mr Varadkar and Simon Coveney had sought clarity from Mr Kenny on his future leadership of the party.

Ms Doherty did not respond to efforts to contact her last night.

Irish Independent

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