Tuesday 11 December 2018

McGrath 'lets rip' at Varadkar with 'emotional' attack

Minister Finian McGrath. Photo: Arthur Carron
Minister Finian McGrath. Photo: Arthur Carron
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Super Junior Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath launched a scathing attack on his Fine Gael colleagues at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting, the Irish Independent can reveal.

During a heated meeting in Government Buildings, Mr McGrath accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael ministers of ignoring his views on serious issues and seeking to railroad policy through Cabinet.

The Independent Alliance minister was furious there was no Cabinet discussion before a decision was taken to vote against a Fianna Fáil motion calling for a State redress scheme to be expanded to compensate more victims of clerical sex abuse.

He was also critical of the Government's stance on a bill seeking to ban the importation of Israeli settlement goods into Ireland.

The programme for Government commits to recognise Palestine as a state.

"I've never been at a Cabinet meeting where there was so much aggression," one Fine Gael minister said. Another minister said: "It was very unlike Finian and he was very emotional and said ministers were not listening to him."

Last week, Mr McGrath threatened to vote against the Government after he learned the Cabinet planned to reject a Fianna Fáil motion that proposed giving redress to all victims of clerical sex abuse in national schools. Currently, victims are compensated only if a prior complaint was made to authorities about their abuser.

The motion, proposed by Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea, would see the victims of around 70 child abusers who worked in non-State owned schools given up to €84,000 in redress.

Mr O'Dea said the enhanced redress scheme would cost the Government around €15m. The Dáil voted in favour of the motion last week.

Mr McGrath was not in the chamber for the vote but it is understood there were concerns in the Department of the Taoiseach that he would vote against the Government.

Prior to the vote, Mr McGrath met Attorney General Seamus Wolfe and Education Minister Richard Bruton to discuss his objection. Mr McGrath's adviser Damien Farrell, who was abused by a priest, told the meeting the Government was treating victims "worse than the Church".

At the Cabinet meeting, Mr McGrath clashed with his constituency colleague Mr Bruton, whose department oversees the redress scheme.

A source at the meeting said Mr McGrath "let rip" at the minister and the Taoiseach.

He was also critical of Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney over the Government's decision to vote against Independent Senator Frances Black's bill banning the importation of goods from Israeli settlements.

Mr McGrath said he was forced to "read about Government decisions in newspapers" and Fine Gael was "taking Independent ministers for granted".

Irish Independent

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