In a series of responses to the exclusive article, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, five ministers and a leading Labour TD all hit out at the claim — and the public way it was made.
Gerald Nash, Labour TD for Louth East Meath, said the actions of TDs Sean Conlan, Paul Connaughton, Pat Deering, Brendan Griffing, Noel Harrington, Sean Kyne, Anthony Lawlor, and Eoghan Murphy had made the complainants “caricatures”.
“The open hostility frequently expressed towards nurses, teachers and members of the Garda Síochána is a sad reflection on a small coterie of Fine Gael TDs who are blinded by a narrow and ideologically motivated anti-public service agenda,” he said.
“For an unrepresentative group of Fine Gael TDs who are in danger of becoming caricatures, Croke Park has become a term of abuse and not the charter for change which continues to deliver real savings and real reform.
“This nasty narrative is becoming a predictably frequent feature of public discourse and it does an enormous disservice to the best traditions of a party which has prided itself on its state-building role.”
The angry reaction was echoed by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who sternly rebuked the way in which the backbenchers highlighted their concerns after an unrelated meeting in Sligo.
“Everyone who is elected as a member of my own party obviously has the opportunity of parliamentary meetings and internal committee meetings to raise these issues. They have been raised in the past.
“It is important to recognise that Croke Park has brought us to this point without industrial strife — it is very difficult to put a price on that.”
In a clear reference to his annoyance at the way the issue became front-page news, he added: “My preference is that people raise these matters where they are supposed to be raised.”
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton repeated that the Taoiseach would have preferred if the matter had been discussed at parliamentary meetings instead of across a newspaper front page.
He said changes, particularly those in social welfare, have “all happened under Croke Park” and that this should not be forgotten.
The frustrated reaction continued, with Transport Minister Leo Varadkar saying the comments were based on eight TDs out of a 100-strong parliamentary party — and as such should be seen in that context.
Further criticism came from Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Health Minister Dr James Reilly, though the latter insisted there was still room to cut more from Croke Park.