Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath has said that Fianna Fáil will pick up the pieces and move beyond the issue of Barry Cowen’s sacking.
It had been a very difficult decision for the Taoiseach to make, Mr McGrath told Newstalk Breakfast and he rejected the suggestion that this was a case of “the same old Fianna Fáil.” The issue brought things to a head, he added. The Taoiseach was of the view that a further statement from Mr Cowen was necessary, “but Barry decided not to do that.
“Ultimately the Taoiseach had to make an incredibly difficult decision. I’m sure Barry will address the issue in his own time.” The Taoiseach had made his decision to relieve Mr Cowen of his portfolio “absolutely without prejudice.” What was at issue was that Mr Cowen did not want to go into the Dáil to make a statement.
Mr McGrath said that the Taoiseach had been keen to afford Barry Cowen every opportunity to come before the House to clarify the situation, when he did not do so the Taoiseach was placed in a very difficult position and it led to him making a decision “that no Taoiseach wants to make.” What had happened was deeply unfortunate and should never have happened, he said. “We have had a tough start.” Mr McGrath said he had a huge amount of sympathy for Mr Cowen and his family.
Later on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland Mr McGrath rejected a description by Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin that Mr Martin's leadership was chaotic. “What was at issue here is the fact that the Taoiseach arrived at the view that it was not politically sustainable for Barry not to come in and deal with the issue head on.” The situation had become the focus of much media speculation when there were other issues that needed to be addressed, he said.
Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty also told Morning Ireland that the Taoiseach’s judgement was now being questioned and he needed to explain what had happened between the afternoon when he defended Mr Cowen and the evening when he sacked him.