Ms Burton did not contradict the former Labour leader’s revelation that she dismissed him in a 20-second encounter, but the Tánaiste brushed aside Mr Rabbitte’s complaint that he had been dumped from Cabinet because of his age and “chemistry” issues.
“That’s what Pat said, but I have to say that Pat has always been the perfect gentleman with me. I had to make room for new people who I believe will be very positive,” Ms Burton told RTÉ.
As the impact of the Cabinet reshuffle continued to dominate the Government, Ms Burton denied that failure to promote junior health minister Kathleen Lynch to the top table was part of a move against former Democratic Left elements in the party such as Mr Rabbitte and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.
“Kathleen is actually going to stay in her current job and also take responsibility for primary care.
“She and I have had a number of conversations about this and she made it very clear to me she is very happy to stay in her current job,” Ms Burton said.
Mr Rabbitte has indicated he may now not run for Labour again after the way he was treated by Ms Burton.
The man who lost out to Ms Burton in the Labour leadership tussle and is now communications minister, Alex White, also moved to combat fears his former career at RTÉ will see him try to exert influence on the national broadcaster, or lead to bias against the commercial sector.
Mr White insisted his strong past links to RTÉ would not come into play now that he has been elevated to the Cabinet.
The Labour TD tried to dismiss any concerns.
“It’s not hugely relevant as it is 20 years since I’ve worked there.
“I suppose it gives you a knowledge in terms of what the issues are in broadcasting, but really it’s a policy issue. Government makes the policy about broadcasting and the media do the job, and the managers manage it. It’s not for Government, that’s for policy,” Mr White said.
The minister stressed media would be just part of a “wide remit” in a department which also takes in the energy and natural resources portfolios.
New Fine Gael Transport and Tourism Minister Paschal Donohue signalled an easing-up of the austerity agenda in the October Budget as the Government seeks to ease pressure on lower and middle-income earning taxpayers.
Sinn Féin’s Jobs and Enterprise spokesperson Peadar Toibin said the Government had missed an opportunity to work out a new direction.
“Maybe a new programme for government would have been developed which would have definitely set this government off on a new path; what we have is very little detail and very vague,” Mr Toibin told RTÉ.