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'I'm not completely incompetent,' says Coughlan

Calamity Coughlan is not "completely incompetent" or so she says herself.

The Tanaiste has come in for some strong criticism since taking office two and a half years ago but she has hit back -- sort of. Under fire from her long-term foe Joan Burton, Ms Coughlan declared: "I am not completely incompetent."

Einstein Mary was not in the humour for the Labour TD in the Dail yesterday but as usual Burton poked regardless.

Burton threw everything from SR Technics to Waterford Glass and even Cadbury's at the Tanaiste before eventually hitting the nerve.

According to Burton, we were being "sold down the Suwannee and she (Coughlan) has nothing to offer the House".

Ms Coughlan sought solace from the Ceann Comhairle who earnestly tried but ultimately failed to quell the onslaught of "long-term blackspots" and Limerick regeneration.

"If I am not going to be protected by the House from accusations that are thrown out lightly without the opportunity to give a full response . . ." pleaded the Tanaiste.

But Burton interrupted: "They are not accusations; they are facts."

Then just as it seemed that order was about to be restored Mary seemed to hear a whisper in her ear.

"I am not completely incompetent," she fumed at a bemused Burton, who denied ever uttering such a suggestion.

"Perhaps it was a voice behind her," said Joan, as the Ceann Comhairle scorned like a teacher on the brink of sending her to the bold girls' corner.