Sheehan quits FG frontbench over drink threat row
FINE Gael last night moved to show some disciplinary action was being taken against a TD who allegedly made drunken threats to gardai.
But Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said Cork South-West TD PJ Sheehan's behaviour outside the Dail was a matter for the gardai to deal with.
Mr Ahern said he was a personal friend of Mr Sheehan's and had no intention of commenting on the affair.
After talking with Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, Mr Sheehan resigned as the party's deputy spokesman on agriculture.
"I have advised the party leader that I do not want to be considered for any other position. I will continue to work diligently on behalf of my constituents in Cork South-West," he said.
Mr Sheehan was among the most low-profile of the Fine Gael spokespersons, so his resignation is not expected to create a major void in the party's policy development.
Mr Kenny is due to announce a new lineup of deputy frontbench spokespeople this week.
Mr Sheehan is expected to resign anyway at the next general election.
The 77-year-old TD apologised to gardai on Sunday and expressed his regret at the "embarrassment" he caused to his party, constituents and family.
A female garda has claimed that, at 1am on July 8 last, Mr Sheehan was very intoxicated as he approached his car outside Leinster House.
When the garda tried to prevent him from using his car, Mr Sheehan is alleged to have threatened that her actions would damage her future career.
In an official garda report, it is alleged that Mr Sheehan told the garda she would never get promoted. "When we get into power you will get nothing," he added.
In his statement last night, Mr Sheehan said he wished to offer "a full and unreserved apology for my behaviour on July 8th".
"This behaviour was totally out of character in my 30 years in politics. I offer my deepest apologies to the gardai on duty that night who were carrying out their duty in exemplary fashion.
"I also deeply regret the embarrassment this incident has caused the Fine Gael Party, its leader, my colleagues in the Party, my constituents in Cork South-West and my wife and family. I intend writing a letter expressing my deep personal apologies and regrets to the gardai in question," he said.
After the party's attacks on Mr Cowen last week, Mr Kenny will be under pressure this week to elaborate on his handling of the controversy.