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VIDEO: "If my name was Cowen, I'd stay quiet in this debate"

Pat Rabbitte told Barry Cowen his surname meant he should butt out of Dáil debates. He later apologised.

COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER Pat Rabbitte caused a stir in the Dáil this morning – when he suggested that Fianna Fáil’s social protection spokesman, Barry Cowen, should opt out of debating public policy because of his brother’s tenure at Taoiseach.

The remarks came during Leaders’ Questions this morning, when Rabbitte said neither Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin had sent their alternative Budgets to the Department of Finance for a prior adjudication on whether their figures were correct.

This prompted ire from both opposition parties, who sought to argue that their figures were drawn from responses to parliamentary questions from Michael Noonan, and therefore had already been approved by the Department on an individual basis.

Among those demanding clarification was Barry Cowen, prompting Rabbitte to remark:

If my name was Cowen, I’d stay quiet in this debate.

Later in proceedings, Rabbitte said he regretted the remark he had made, and asked for it to be withdrawn from the record.

“In the heat of exchanges with Deputy Cowen I made a remark which I regret, and I want to withdraw.

I knew Deputy Brian Cowen better than most in this house, I had a lot of regard for the fact that like his father before him he did his public service in this house according to his own lights.

Read: Dáil suspended as Ming decries Ceann Comhairle comments on dress code

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Gavan Reilly

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