Tánaiste Joan Burton has defended a speech from outgoing Labour TD Ruairí Quinn during which he claimed the party has “defeated the Fine Gaelers”.
Mr Quinn received rapturous applause after he told colleagues at the Labour parliamentary party think-in that they should be deeply proud of its performance in Government.
While admitting that mistakes had been made, the Dublin Bay South TD said the Labour party had defeated the “Fine Gaelers”, “the Fianna Fáilers” and the “Free Staters”.
“The great thing about socialism and social democrats, because we don’t believe in capitalism, we know how to f***ing manage it,” Mr Quinn said.
“We have been a lonely tribe of adventurers, pioneers and visionaries who said we will transform this country in a way that it was never transformed before.
“And we have defeated the Fine Gaelers and the Free Staters, and we have defeated the Fianna Fáilers and the nationalists. And we have brought this country into the 21st century, and without the Labour Party we would not be here today,” he said in a speech which has been described as impromptu.
During the address, the former Education Minister said it was his final address at such an event, as he will retire before the next General Election.
While he did admit the party had made some mistakes during its time in Government, Mr Quinn said he has no regrets about the path it had taken.
“I have many regrets, many regrets about the mistakes that we have made, but no regrets about the journey that we have travelled,” the 69-year-old said during his emotive speech.
“If you look at what we have achieved and what more we can achieve, it is a parade of success of which you should be enormously proud.”
He also took a swipe at the electorate and said much was expected of the party, despite the fact it had not received much support.
“We are expected by a population to deliver a transformation of society within four of five years, when they never
gave us the mandate to do it within a vote that is beyond the 19(pc). We have never broken the 20pc.
“What we have achieved, what you have achieved, what you will go on to achieve is an extraordinary transformation,” he added.
Ms Burton said yesterday Mr Quinn’s address was “very passionate”. “I think Ruairí was reflecting, rightly, a degree of pride in some of the social changes that the Labour Party has sponsored, and difficult social conversations about issues that are very important to people,” she added.