Keaveney would join Hizbollah for career advancement, Rabbitte claims

Minister for Communications denies any terrorism reference in his remarks on RTÉ’s ‘The Week in Politics’

Labour Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has claimed Galway East TD Colm Keaveney would "join the Hizbullah" if he thought it would advance his political career.

In a withering put-down of his former Labour colleague, he also contended that Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was unable to keep a straight face as Mr Keaveney described how he was welcomed into the party.

“Colm Keaveney would join the Hizbullah if he thought it would advance his career,” he said.

Mr Keaveney responded on his Twitter site. “Unlike some in Irish politics, I would never join a terrorist organisation that killed and maimed to progress a political objective,” he wrote.


That was taken as a reference to Mr Rabbitte’s former party, Sinn Féin The Workers’ Party, which had links to the Official IRA when he joined the party in the 1970s.

Mr Rabbitte was appearing on RTÉ's Week in Politics yesterday and, after a video clip was shown of Mr Keaveney being announced as Fianna Fáil's newest TD, presenter Áine Lawlor said the Minister was laughing as the clip had been played.

Mr Rabbitte said Irish television had had some great moments over the years including Pádraig Flynn's appearance on the Late Late Show, as well as Fianna Fáil ministers Noel Dempsey and Dermot Ahern saying there was no bailout, just as the IMF and EU intervened.

"If you watch that clip [of Mr Martin and Mr Keaveney], that's sure to join them," said Mr Rabbitte.

Mr Rabbitte said satirist and mimic Oliver Callan had given the best representation of what had happened. (In his sketch on Friday evening, Mr Callan portrayed Mr Keaveney going from party to party looking for a home and Mr Martin accepting him on the basis he was "really desperate").

When challenged by presenter Aine Lawlor about the Hizbullah comparison, Mr Rabbitte said: “There’s no terrorism angle . . . he would join anyone if he thought it would advance his career.”

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times