herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Burton hits back over Varadkar's 'bluffers' attack

JIBE: Labour leaders 'not honest' says FG TD

A VICIOUS verbal spat has broken out between two Dublin TDs who have accused each other of being "a bluffer" and "sheltered".

Relations between Fine Gael and Labour are on shaky ground after Leo Varadkar described Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton as "populist" and "dishonest".

He alleged that the "Eamon and Joan Show" will "say whatever will get them votes".



Lucky

But Ms Burton has hit back by arguing that her constituency colleague has "been lucky enough to live in the sheltered sector of being brought up as a medical student".

"Leo has his own issues and his own problems and his own dreams," she said.

The row began on Wednesday when Mr Varadkar suggested that after an election the former Labour bosses Pat Rabbitte and Ruairi Quinn will have to wrestle control of the party from the current leader and deputy leader.

Making reference to an interview with the Herald in which Mr Gilmore ruled out a selection of tough austerity measures, Mr Varadkar said: "I think what will happen is after the election the real Labour Party is going to have to stand up and let's hope it's the Labour Party of Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte and not the 'Eamon and Joan Show', which just isn't honest and isn't credible."

The spat suggests that apart from policy issues, there could be significant difficulties in forming a Fine Gael/Labour coalition after the next election.

Speaking on Newstalk's Breakfast Show, Mr Varadkar went on to say that Mr Gilmore was talking "total bluff" when he suggested that the economy could be fixed without hitting middle income earners.

"The 'Eamon and Joan Show' is no tax increases, no cuts, we'll just magic it away," he said.

But Ms Burton has defended her record and says she has far more experience than the young doctor.

"All I can say is that when I was a minister of state in Department of Social Welfare I'm very proud of the fact that I was involved in the back to work scheme that people will remember.

"The 'Eamon and Joan Show' has actually offered people in this country some hope. I have a track record as a minister when I worked in the Government that Labour was involved in from '92 to '97."



Interesting

She went on to attack the Fine Gael communications spokesperson's record by saying: "All we know from Leo at the moment is that Leo can talk the talk. We don't know yet whether Leo can walk the walk.

"I think Leo's contributions to the debate are very interesting and very valuable, but I live in the real world. I've worked in business. I've worked since I was 18. I bring real life experience to the table and if Leo has a problem with people who rolled up their selves and went out to work from the time they were kids like me, listen that's his problem."

kdoyle@herald.ie

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