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FF, Labour in bitter row over Sargent leak claim

FIANNA Fail has demanded an apology from Eamon Gilmore and Pat Rabbitte for alleging that the Trevor Sargent leak was "payback" for Willie O'Dea.

As gardai begin an investigation into how the Herald broke the story of the Green TD's interference with a criminal investigation, Fianna Fail and the opposition have engaged in a war of words over the source of the story.

Junior minister Billy Kelleher today said it was "simply bizarre for mature politicians" to claim that the leak could have come from the Department of Justice.

In recent days, the Herald has revealed the explosive details of correspondence between Mr Sargent and gardai in Balbriggan.

However, this newspaper will not at any stage be revealing the origins of our information.

Today, Mr Kelleher hit out at the Labour Party in particular for claiming that, unless you believed in the tooth fairy, there was a Fianna Fail link to the source.


Opposition parties have suggested that it was a "tit-for-tat" take out after Green Senator Dan Boyle promoted Willie O'Dea's resignation by tweeting that he had no confidence in the former Defence Minister.

Rejecting these suggestions, Mr Kelleher said: "It's quiet and pathetic to see mature politicians like Deputy Gilmore and Deputy Rabbitte sowing seeds of conspiracy theories."

He said that the "sad reality" was that Trevor Sargent paid a heavy price for "a mistake that was made in the context of good faith".

"I think everybody in the Dail would accept Trevor Sargent's bona fides," he said.

"Without one iota of evidence to support them, Messrs Gilmore and Rabbitte tried to suggest that the Department of Justice and its Minister had questions to answer.

"It was dirty politics cloaked in sanctimony. It has no basis in fact. They should now apologise."

Asked whether the Herald's exclusive had damaged the trust between Fianna Fail and the Greens, Mr Kelleher said the coalition is "built on trust, is based on trust and must stand on trust".

"The idea that Fianna Fail was in some way involved in the downfall of Trevor Sargent is simply unthinkable and unbelievable," he said.

Mr Kelleher noted that the Green Party has stated "quiet clearly and emphatically" that they do not believe Fianna Fail was involved.

But he added: "The week we have just had has been a very difficult week for everybody and the body politic."