RICHARD Bruton has admitted his decision to return to the Fine Gael frontbench could be seen as hypocrisy.
When he launched his heave against Enda Kenny last month, Mr Bruton said he would not serve in another frontbench under the party leader as it would be “hypocritical” to do so.
But having failed with the heave and “reflected” on the situation since, Mr Bruton decided to accept Mr Kenny’s offer to return to the frontbench, albeit with a demotion from the finance portfolio to enterprise.
Asked yesterday if his decision could be regarded as hypocrisy, he replied: “You could say that.”
“But in the middle of a very intense campaign, you don’t contemplate defeat. If you’re in the dressing room and you’re urging yourself and your team on, you don’t start talking about, ‘Well, what might happen if the back door is our route?’” he added.
“I’ve had time to reflect. I’ve spoken to all of my party colleagues and I’ve spoken to party members throughout the country, and I believe that I have a real contribution to make.”
He said he was “disappointed” for the former frontbenchers who paid the price for supporting him last month by being dropped yesterday. They included Brian Hayes, Michael Creed, Denis Naughten and Olivia Mitchell.
“We are all colleagues and at a human level I do feel for people,” he said. “Personally, it is a difficult issue when people have put their neck on the line, if you like, in supporting a view that I had adopted, but I think at the end of the day we’re professional politicians.
“We’re in the business of serving the people, we’re not in the business of standing on our own pride… As Enda has said, those who may be excluded today will have opportunities and can emerge again.”
Mr Kenny said he intended making Mr Bruton’s new portfolio – enterprise, jobs and economic planning – a full Cabinet ministry if Fine Gael returned to government.
But asked if that meant Mr Bruton would be made minister for that area, Mr Kenny replied: “You can’t read any such implication into it.”
The winners yesterday were the men who took Mr Bruton’s old jobs, Michael Noonan, who became finance spokesman, and Dr James Reilly, who was appointed deputy leader.
Fine Gael will hope that Dublin TD Dr Reilly will be able to boost the party’s support in the capital, where it is lagging behind Labour.
Alan Shatter was promoted to the justice portfolio, again in recognition of his loyalty to Mr Kenny.
Also benefiting were Sean Barrett, Deirdre Clune, John Perry and David Stanton, all of whom returned to the frontbench after varying periods of absence.
Catherine Byrne, Andrew Doyle and Frank Feighan were appointed to the frontbench for the first time.
In his first interview as finance spokesman, Mr Noonan accused Finance Minister Brian Lenihan of making a mess of the bank rescue, and said it had been a mistake to pump €22bn into Anglo Irish Bank.
But asked what the solution to Anglo was, Mr Noonan said: “It’s very hard to unscramble an egg. And they have scrambled the egg in such a way it’s not possible to unscramble it and the taxpayer takes the hit.”
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