Election Promises

Pat Rabbitte: ‘I never said election promises were worthless’

“Isn’t that what you do during an election?”: Pat Rabbitte says his RTÉ comments were misrepresented… by Vincent Browne.

COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER Pat Rabbitte claims comments he made which appeared to discredit Labour’s own election policies were taken out of context – and given an unfair spin by broadcaster Vincent Browne.

Appearing on RTÉ’s ‘The Week in Politics’ in December, Rabbitte was discussing Labour’s pledge to maintain child benefit rates, when he was accused of not explaining how the promise could be undermined by a further economic slump.

Rabbitte responded by saying, “Isn’t that what you do during an election?” – a comment widely picked up to mean that parties made flippant election promises while seeking office.

“Even Seán O’Rourke has corrected somebody on the panel who has put the same construction on it,” Rabbitte said in an interview with

I was explaining how it came about that we weren’t able to deliver on that promise on child benefit. And he interrupted me to say, ‘You didn’t explain that at the time, you kept it simple.’

And I said, ‘Isn’t that what you do during an election?’ Meaning, ‘Keep it simple.’ Keep the message simple. Keep the ad simple.

(YouTube: ConorStitt)

Rabbitte said the incorrect spin on the comment was “mischievously originated by Vincent Browne, who knows well [that] that’s not what happened.

“You can’t write an essay along with an advertisement and say, ‘I’d like to draw your attention to the lovely rotund baby and explain that we we’re doing here is looking after child benefit’,” he said.

“Vincent Browne deliberately, and mischievously, took it out of context, and has got some mileage for it.”

Asked if he truly believed any misrepresentation was deliberate, Rabbitte said:

Ah well, maybe I shouldn’t say that. Vincent is a lovely fella, but overly given to entertainment on occasions.
Filming and editing by Michelle Hennessy

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