A newly-appointed member of the Fianna Fail frontbench, Averil Power, has accused Labour’s Justice Spokesman Pat Rabbitte of making sexist comments about her and colleague Mary Fitzpatrick.

Both Ms Power and Ms Fitzpatrick are Dublin-based election candidates who are not members of the Oireachtas.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio today, Mr Rabbitte described the announcement by Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin as a ‘stunt’.

He said it was not innovative to go outside the House to - as he put it - put a sprinkling of women in the photograph.

Mr Rabbitte said Mr Martin may as well have 'wandered down to Grafton Street' and asked 'a couple of good-looking women' to see if they wanted to be in the photograph for a job that's only for four weeks.

In a statement, Ms Power said Mr Rabbitte's comments were an insult to all those who are working to involve more women in politics.

Minister Mary Hanafin described Mr Rabbitte's comments as an ‘outrageous slur’ on young intelligent women.

Mary Fitzpatrick is a Councillor in Dublin Central and Averil Power is a Trinity College graduate and former President of the Students Union.