Labour's Ruairi Quinn is insisting he did not set out to humiliate Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny when he yesterday stepped in to provide a pairing arrangement for the Tánaiste to allow her go on an Enterprise Ireland mission to the US.

Fine Gael had attempted to block the trip by refusing to provide a pairing arrangement during Mary Coughlan's absence, saying she should be in the Dáil for the first sitting of the new term.

But Deputy Quinn said the jobs mission is worth going on and Fine Gael should have flagged their plan to their opposition colleagues.

"If you are going to unilaterally announce a war on pairs you had better make sure that everybody is on side," Deputy Quinn said.

"And they didn't make sure that everybody was on side because nobody consulted the Labour Party.

"I didn't set out to humiliate anybody," he added.