Shane Ross' tell-all book dismissed as 'naked attention seeking' by former cabinet colleagues

Mr Ross’ book stands as a salient tale of the price there is to be paid for confronting the establishment and trying to change things
Shane Ross' tell-all book dismissed as 'naked attention seeking' by former cabinet colleagues

Shane Ross defended his right to write the book, which has been heavily criticised by his former Cabinet colleagues. File Picture. 

The stinging rebuke from all within Fine Gael to Shane Ross’ tell-all book was not unexpected.

The tone of the attacks from Mr Ross’ former Cabinet colleagues to his opus In Bed with the Blueshirts was robust to say the least.

Their gripe is that Mr Ross is still bound by the seal of Cabinet confidentiality even after he has retired from office and his book not only pushes the boundary of that Constitutional provision, but tramples all over it.

Former Minister for Social Protection, now Senator, Regina Doherty demanded action to be taken against Mr Ross for the book which she says breaches Cabinet confidentiality.

“When the golden rule is broken it all falls apart,” she told RTÉ radio’s Today show.

Ms Doherty said Mr Ross had “moved with indecent haste” to write the book, which showed that “he had no real interest in being a minister.”

She said he has done away with the rules in order to “make a few quid on a tell-all book”.

She declared the book was “unedifying” and it was a shame that he had written it. Publishing the book was “naked attention seeking” and she felt guilty about commenting on it as it was giving him and the book more publicity.

His decision to reveal details of Cabinet meetings in the book was ironic she said considering “he went bananas” after information about one of his Bills was leaked from a Cabinet meeting.

Ms Doherty said that it was sad that Mr Ross had “stooped this low”.

What the book makes clear is that Mr Ross and his main partner in crime, Finian McGrath, endured a rocky relationship with Fine Gael from the outset.

Relations were soured from the start of government formation talks in 2016 when he described then acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny as a “political corpse” in his Sunday Independent column.

That description loomed large in the minds of Mr Kenny’s ministers who, as the book sets out, sought revenge at every and any opportunity.

The deep dysfunction at the heart of the Kenny Government is laid bare in the book and Mr Ross recounts telling Mr McGrath on their way into their first Cabinet meeting "that you and I are probably propping up the most conservative government in the history of the State".

Finian McGrath (left) with Shane Ross. File picture: Gareth Chaney Collins
Finian McGrath (left) with Shane Ross. File picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

He said they needed to make up their minds quickly whether we would be Trojan horses in this political coalition or converts to conservatism. It was not a dilemma they ever really sorted out.

“Looking around the table was a sobering experience. The gang in the room contained not a single radical voice. It was a mixture of dyed-in-the-wool Fine Gael families, teachers, privately educated prima donnas and the odd farmer,” he writes.

“Over his 40 years in the Dáil, Enda Kenny had never rocked a single boat. He was instinctively on the conservative wing of the party. His father had been a close friend and political ally of Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, a man whose views were always on the right of the political spectrum,” he adds.

Throughout the book, Mr Ross also details his scraps on the judicial appointments bill, the drink driving legislation as well as his battles with Pat Hickey in the Olympic Council of Ireland and, later, John Delaney and the FAI.

The book details his many gaffes, mainly public relations related, as well as the friendships he lost over the policies he pursued, most notably that of his “oldest friend” Eamon Dunphy, who monstered him on national radio only days after they had dinner together. Mr Ross makes clear of his hurt at Mr Dunphy’s failure to contact him after his mother’s death.

Defending his right to publish, Mr Ross said he could understand the anger about the book, but this wasn’t the first time Cabinet meetings had been written about, he said. 

“There is Fine Gael precedence”, he said, as former Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald and others had also written about Cabinet meetings.

Shane Ross. File picture: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie
Shane Ross. File picture: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Mr Ross said he did not think he would be prosecuted for any of the revelations in his book. But he acknowledged that there was a real problem with Cabinet confidentiality as “everything was leaked.” He said that his book told “in an orderly way what happened.”

“It's in the public interest to know what happens," he said.

“You might as well have an RTÉ camera in the room the way information was being live tweeted to journalists.”

Whatever about the row over his revealing of Cabinet tales, there is a tangible sadness to the book that his career ended in such failure and unpopularity when for so long Mr Ross had been the boot boy in chief in days gone by.

Detested by his own Cabinet colleagues who have turned on him again, Mr Ross’ book stands as a salient tale of the price there is to be paid for confronting the establishment and trying to change things. 

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