Alan Kelly says report that €780k in state cash given to Tipperary soccer clubs ‘hilarious’ and figure sounds ‘on the low side’
Published 21/01/2016 | 09:20
Environment Minister Alan Kelly has described reports that more than €780,000 in funding was given to soccer clubs in Tipperary during his time as a Minister as "quite hilarious" and "absolutely ridiculous".
The Tipperary North TD said that he has not yet read today's Irish Independent's story, which also cited the fact that John Delaney confirmed that he worked with Mr Kelly on applications for funding for clubs in county where both men hail from.
Mr Kelly, who was a guest on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, said that everything was above board in relation to his professional dealings with Mr Delaney.
"Just because people are friends and get on with one another - that shouldn't impinge on someone doing their role whether it's at the FAI or in Government.
"Those figures in the Independent might be on the low side in relation to the level of funding, I think the real figure is probably higher, I'll have to check.
"This story has been doing the rounds for the last few days, I've never seen something to be so hyped and blown out of proportion.
"The fact of the matter is John Delaney is a friend of mine privately, we are both from the same county and we have been friends for sometime.
"The engagements that took place last week had been planned for sometime, there are lots of issues relating to soccer in Tipperary," he said.
Host Ivan Yates remarked that if this story was linked to a Fianna Fail Minister, Mr Kelly would be the first to label it "cronyism".
"It's absolutely not cronyism.
"I'm a government minister and I'm also a TD for Tipperary and you fight for the constituency and for your people, I make no apology for that.
"John Delaney was in Tipperary Town, we went for lunch and we walked down the street. How we weren't going to bump into people I don't know.
"St Michael's Club in Tipperary Town is his home club and the one he has always supported.
"I think this whole story has been quite unfair on John Delaney, he was just fulfilling his role," he said.
During the time the grants were allocated, Mr Kelly was a junior minister in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, before being appointed as Environment Minister in 2014.
Mr Delaney, whose organisation receives millions in taxpayer funding, canvassed for Mr Kelly in Tipperary last week as they visited local football clubs.
On Tuesday, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe remarked on Mr Delaney's support for Mr Kelly saying the election should be left to "political figures".