Thursday 22 March 2018

Pat Rabbitte snubs new Labour leader Joan Burton

Joan Burton and Pat Rabbitte
Joan Burton and Pat Rabbitte
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

FORMER Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte has snubbed the new leader of the Labour Party Joan Burton by leaving the Dail chamber before her reshuffle speech.

Mr Rabbitte came late into the chamber after the new Cabinet entered to applause and did not take a seat among his Labour Party colleagues.

Instead, he sat on his own at the back of the chamber as Taoiseach Enda Kenny unveiled the Cabinet.

And before Ms Burton took the floor to outline her hopes for the Cabinet, Mr Rabbitte left the chamber.

He stayed at the back of the chamber for around 10 minutes of Mr Kenny’s speech.

Following the reshuffle, Mr Rabbitte said he believes his age played a part in the decision made and the reason given for his removal from Cabinet was to give a new generation an opportunity. 

“If you’re deemed too old to serve at Cabinet at this juncture, it causes you to look at things thorough a different prism,” he told RTE’s Radio One.

When asked if he agreed with the reason given, he said; “Whether I buy that or not, that’s what happened. That’s the situation now and I wish each of my colleagues well.”

The former Communications Minister also spoke about his exchange with the Tanaiste this morning.

"We had a 20-second exchange this morning and that was the extent of it,” she said.

The Labour TD also said today’s announcement will have a bearing on his decision to run again in the future.

Along with the long serving Dublin South West deputy, Ms Burton today sacked former Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore. Education Minister Ruairi Quinn announced his resignation two weeks ago.

During her speech, Ms Burton said the three former Labour Party leaders made an “immense contribution” to politics throughout their careers.

“Eamon, Ruairi and Pat have always fought for progressive change in the best interests of our people, and I know that they will continue to do so,” she added.

Mr Rabbitte had long left the chamber before Ms Burton thanked him for his contribution to public life.

Opposition TDs interrupted Ms Burton’s speech to ask where Mr Rabbitte was for the announcement.

Mr Rabbitte was replaced by failed Labour Party leadership candidate Alex White in the Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources.

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