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'Minister said he'd sue me'

A senator has accused Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe of threatening to "personally sue" her in a row over cutbacks affecting special needs children.

Senator Fidelma Hayes Eames claimed she received the threat in the corridors of Leinster House following her criticism of cutbacks.

A spokesman for the minister said her claims were "utter nonsense".

The Fine Gael senator told the Seanad yesterday she was confronted by Mr O'Keeffe in a corridor last year.

She said: "On December 9, he threatened to sue me personally if I continued to make remarks on special needs cuts.

"Is this normal and appropriate behaviour from a senior minister towards a member of this House? I feel it is intimidation."

The Galway senator and the education minister have clashed previously about special needs cutbacks.

The Government is planning to withdraw up to 1,200 of the 10,000 special needs assistants.