Cowen apologises for Burton remark


THE TAOISEACH apologised to the Labour spokeswoman on finance for a remark he made during sharp exchanges on the details of the announcement of today’s four-year economic plan.

As Brian Cowen was interrupted by Joan Burton, he suggested to her party leader, Eamon Gilmore, that he “try and rein her in now and again”.

Mr Gilmore said: “Hold on now . . . That is not like the Taoiseach”. Mr Cowen said every time he replied to questions from Mr Gilmore, the Labour leader “allows her speak”.

Fine Gael’s Lucinda Creighton said Mr Cowen should apologise.

Mr Cowen said: “Of course, I will apologise for that remark, but is anyone going to apologise when I get up to speak and deputies interrupt me all the time?”

Fine Gael’s Damien English observed: “The Taoiseach gets well paid for it. Get over it.”

Ms Burton said former taoiseach Albert Reynolds got his answer in similar circumstances. This was reference to Mr Reynolds’s remark “That’s women for you”, as he was heckled from the Opposition benches.

Ms Burton said they easily knew “whose political descendant the Taoiseach is”, adding he should apologise. Women were equal, she added. Mr Cowen said he was constantly interrupted by Ms Burton.

“It is a constant feature of Opposition Leaders’ Questions, where there seems to be a facility for two of Deputy Gilmore’s party members to speak,” he added. He said he certainly would apologise if anyone took offence, but that was not his intention.