Sunday 22 September 2019

'You're like my dog at home – always scratching' – Minister and TD fire insults across Dáil chamber

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

AN independent TD was described as being like a dog – “always scratching” - amid fiery Dáil scenes over political pay and allowances.

Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring clashed loudly with Tipperary’s Mattie McGrath as other TDs roared with laughter.

The shouting match started after Mr McGrath called for a review of the budget for ministerial press advisers.

He said €6.5m has been spent on advisers in the past two years.

“Ministers employing special advisers and media advisers, in other words, spin doctors yet the Government is telling the nurses it cannot pay them,” he said.

The Independent TD claimed ministers were allowed to make appointments “willy-nilly whenever they wish, bring in their friends in the press and cosy up to them”.

More than half a dozen members of the media have left journalism over the past two years to take backroom jobs as advisers to ministers.

However, Mr Ring immediately hit back and called on the TD to “give back the €40,000 he gets as an Independent”.

The allowance is paid in order to help independent members of the Dáil carry out their work.

Mr McGrath retorted “You make €100,000” before the minister charged: “You were a coward.  You were like my dog at home - always scratching.”

Mr Ring said that the Opposition TD had an opportunity to be part of government after the last election.

“You had your chance to come over here and you would not take it.”

The Ceann Comhairle tried in vain to restore order to the House but the two men continued to shout insults.

“I would not go near ye.  It is all supply and no confidence. I am asking you to give back the €100,000,” Mr McGrath said.

Eventually Tánaiste Simon Coveney brought an end to the debate: “All I will say is that the Deputy's attempts to make headlines today seem to have backfired. There are clear guidelines in regard to salaries.  The Deputy knows that.”

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