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Rabbitte lashes out at Burton's Cabinet choices

Former Labour minister Pat Rabbitte has strongly criticised Tanaiste Joan Burton's appointment of first-time TDs Alex White, Alan Kelly and Ged Nash to the Cabinet.

In his first major interview since leaving office, Mr Rabbitte said he has "great difficulty" with people who were elected for the first time in 2011 making it into government.

"I have difficulties with the proposition that in your first Dail term you ought to be a Cabinet minister, and by your second you ought to be Taoiseach," he said.


He took issue with the idea that on the Monday after a count is over you should move into Government Buildings, as some in the 2011 generation feel they should.

Asked if that was not better than having to wait 20 years before becoming a minister, Mr Rabbitte responded sharply: "No, it is not. Everybody ought to serve an apprenticeship.

"Going back to 1922, politicians, ministers who don't serve an apprenticeship, it is apparent in their performance.

"It amuses me. I hope it is for the betterment of the country, but we will wait and see."

Speaking three weeks after losing his job as Communications Minister, Mr Rabbitte revealed his lingering sense of disappointment at being dropped by Ms Burton from the Cabinet, insisting he had signed up for the full term.

"Of course I wanted to stay on," he said.

He was also critical of the manner in which he learned of his fate, accusing Ms Burton of sacking him through the pages of the Sunday Independent.

"I pretty much knew from the Sunday Independent the previous Sunday - I take myself as being fired from that date. I regard myself as being fired through the Sunday Independent," he said.

Mr Rabbitte also gave voice to his notoriously poor relationship with Ms Burton.

"I think most people around Leinster House know the new Tanaiste and myself have never tended to socialise together, let me put it that way," he said.

He insisted he did not make a last-minute plea to keep his job.

"All I know is of my own engagement which didn't last long, it lasted less than half-a-minute," he said.

Asked why it was so short, he said: "There isn't anything to say. I wished the new Tanaiste luck. There was no last-minute plea."


Mr Rabbitte said that despite his unhappiness, he realised the need to be philosophical.

"As a former leader of the party, I have to accept a new leader is entitled to pick his or her new team," he said.

On Labour's electoral prospects, he said it is very unlikely that the party will come anywhere near its 2011 result of 37 seats.