Shouting match in Dáil as Ring says McGrath ‘like a dog – always scratching’

Row erupts over Independent TD’s call for review of appointments of press advisers

 Independent deputy Mattie McGrath   hit out at Government Ministers appointing ‘spin doctors’ and ‘yet the Government is telling the nurses it cannot pay them’.  File photograph: Eric Luke

Independent deputy Mattie McGrath hit out at Government Ministers appointing ‘spin doctors’ and ‘yet the Government is telling the nurses it cannot pay them’. File photograph: Eric Luke

 

A shouting match erupted in the Dáil between Minister for Rural Affairs Michael Ring and Independent TD Mattie McGrath in a row over ministerial advisers and political allowances.

Mr McGrath said the Government had spent €6.5 million in the past two years on political and press advisers and he called for a review.

But Mr Ring said he was like a dog, “always scratching”.

Other TDs watched on in laughter and cheers as the shouting match ensued and the Ceann Comhairle attempted to restore order.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said there were clear guidelines for salaries and Mr McGrath knew that.

The row developed when Mr McGrath hit out at Government Ministers appointing “spin doctors” and “yet the Government is telling the nurses it cannot pay them”.

He claimed Ministers were appointing journalists “willynilly whenever they wish”. Almost 10 journalists have been appointed as press advisers since the general election.

Mr McGrath said Ministers were bringing in their friends in the press to cosy up to them.

But when the Tipperary TD, who has previously asked parliamentary questions about the appointment of former journalists as Government advisers, called for a review, Mr Ring shouted across the floor at him to “give back the €40,000”, the annual allowance each Independent TD receives for their work.

When Mr McGrath shouted back that “you make €100,000”, Mr Ring said “you were a coward”, in reference to the talks on the Government formation and the Rural Independents group’s decision not to join the Government.

“You’re like my dog at home - always scratching”.

He added that “you had your chance to come over here and you wouldn’t take it”.

Mr McGrath roared that “I wouldn’t go near you – it’s all supply and no confidence”, and he said the Minister should give back his salary.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said that Mr McGrath’s “attempts to make headlines today seem to have backfired”.

“There are clear guidelines in regard to salaries and the Deputy knows that,” he said.