herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Coughlan is told 'all you provide is cringe factor'

defence: Tanaiste insists she's well able to handle herself overseas

IT HAS been the cause of much embarrassment for some time, and finally Mary Coughlan has been picked up on her awkward behaviour.

Leo Varadkar told the Tanaiste that her abusive tongue and vulgar behaviour is an embarrassment to her country.

As the Cabinet reshuffle continues to loom heavily, Mary Coughlan was told that she brought the "cringe factor" to overseas trips when she should be impressing.

Speaking in the Dail, Mr Varadkar pointed to a newspaper article which suggested that the IDA "are embarrassed by you when you go overseas with them".

"Others said you are unable to talk to business people and when you do the language you use is often inappropriate and vulgar," he said.

A visibly upset Ms Coughlan said Mr Varadkar had made "many nasty comments" which were "politically motivated" and showed "the ineptitude of some of the Opposition".

"Perhaps the Deputy should take the opportunity of seeing the work I have done on behalf of this country to ensure that we continue to have positive foreign investment," she argued.

The Donegal TD said: "My personality is a matter for others to decide. My job is to represent this country abroad when I do so and I do so with pride and the privilege that has been bestowed on me by the Taoiseach."

One newspaper reported that Ms Coughlan had unleashed a foul-mouthed tirade in the US boardroom of Dell, during a visit last year.

However, Varadkar wasn't impressed by the rebuttal, arguing: "These criticisms are not from the Opposition; they are from people in business."

Ms Coughlan is likely to lose some of her portfolio in the upcoming reshuffle, but Mr Varadkar suggested that the Taoiseach would engage in a face-saving exercise for his friend.

He suggested that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is likely to be restructured simply to give the impression that the Tanaiste is not being sacked.

"It seems to me that the reason the Government is considering a reform of the Tanaiste's Department is that the Taoiseach does not want to move her aside, and that his own personal loyalty to her means he is considering abolishing the Department from underneath her," he said.

But Ms Coughlan wasn't taking the bait.

"I have numerous discussions with the Taoiseach on many issues which are the privilege of the Taoiseach and me. Unlike others, I do not discuss them in the public domain," she replied.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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