A Fianna Fail deputy has followed Michael O’Leary’s lead and defended Finance Minister Michael Noonan’s claims that emigration is a lifestyle choice.
Niall Collins has backed his fellow Limerick man in the row despite Fianna Fail calls for an apology from Noonan.
Front bench deputy Collins has claimed his neighbour and friend was ‘wrongly portrayed’ by the media coverage of the remarks last week.
Collins also told the Irish Examiner that Noonan does not deserve the criticism that has come his way since his views on emigration went public.
The Fianna Fail environment spokesman said: “Michael Noonan did not deserve the criticism he got.
When you take his comment in the full context in which it was given, the criticism he got was unfair.
“From knowing him politically, he is not a man who is unaware of the hardships facing families who see their sons and daughters forced to emigrate.
“What he said is being taken as a glib, irresponsible remark, when taken out of context. While we have strong political differences, I feel he is being wrongly portrayed in this situation as an uncaring individual, oblivious to the trauma facing thousands of families due to emigration.”
Collins also told the paper that he had read the Noonan speech in full and encouraged others to do the same before they cast judgement on the Minister.
“Fair comment is fair comment, but what has happened with him was not fair comment in my view, given what he actually stated,” said Collins.
Noonan also spoke of the controversy at the weekend and he too claimed his remarks were taken out of context.
“The full interview is up on the website and if you want to check it, you will see that what was reported wasn’t a full version. I can’t control what people publish, but I know my comments were absolutely balanced and absolutely correct,” stated the Minister for Finance.