Sacking based on 'age and chemistry', says Rabbitte

By Philip Ryan

Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte was not caught in the headlights when it came to his sacking from office.

The politician staunchly refused to accept his fate in public but in private he was making arrangements to find a new office in Leinster House.

Mr Rabbitte (65) said he was "disappointed but not surprised" by Labour Party leader Joan Burton's decision to drop him from Cabinet.


He begrudgingly wished Ms Burton (65) well but said the decision to sack him was based on "age and chemistry".

He said he spoke briefly with Ms Burton yesterday but they did not discuss his political future in recent weeks.

"We had a 20 second exchange this morning but that was the extent of it," he said.

"Contrary to what you might read in some newspapers, I had no discussion good bad or indifferent with Joan about my personal position. None at all."

In one final act of defiance, Mr Rabbitte snubbed his party leader by walking out of the Dail chamber before she made her speech on the Cabinet reshuffle.

It is well-known Ms Burton and Mr Rabbitte at times had a frosty relationship and did not always agree on party matters.

Labour sources said they expect him to remain a TD but Mr Rabbitte cast doubt on his political future after the next general election.

He said he had "every intention" of standing for re-election before his sacking but now he has been "deemed too old to serve in a Cabinet" he was looking at running again through a "different prism".

Mr Rabbitte was replaced by failed Labour leadership candidate Alex White in the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.


But it is understood that there was little disquiet from Mr Rabbitte when he learned he lost his job.

However, during the unveiling of the new Cabinet, Mr Rabbitte was visibly displeased and refused to sit with his party colleagues.

His Labour colleagues said they expect the party veteran to run again as "politics was his life".

Along with Mr Rabbitte, Ms Burton sacked former Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore from foreign affairs. 
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn announced his resignation two weeks ago.

During her speech, Ms Burton said the three former Labour Party leaders made an "immense contribution" to politics throughout their careers.

"Eamon, Ruairi and Pat have always fought for progressive change in the best interests of our people, and I know that they will continue to do so," she said.