Monday 26 September 2016

Kelly dons his hard hat to take on the poll-topper

Published 27/01/2016 | 02:30

Local Labour TD John Lyons (left), Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government Alan Kelly, and Tina Donaghy, head of Housing & Devolpment at Fold Ireland at the announcement of details of a new social house building programme. Photo: Collins
Local Labour TD John Lyons (left), Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government Alan Kelly, and Tina Donaghy, head of Housing & Devolpment at Fold Ireland at the announcement of details of a new social house building programme. Photo: Collins

A rousing campaign was launched by a GAA all-star, with over 600 supporters braving icy roads to make it.

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The three carparks of the hotel were over-subscribed and television screens placed in the foyer and the main bar so that disappointed seatless attendees could watch the proceedings live.

A five-piece band, balloons . . . and a poem specially penned for last Friday's special occasion, entitled 'Michael Lowry - Tipperary's Finest Son'.

Tipped once again to not only top the poll - but to be one of the top vote-getters in the entire country - is it any wonder the political establishment has rounded in fury on the disgraced former minister who, despite everything, continues to beat them consistently at their own game?

There had been grumblings afoot that this General Election campaign was proving to be a dull affair. No fireworks. No personal stuff. No slaps.

But it's all brewing up nicely in Tipperary with the pot-shots between the predicted poll topper and Alan Kelly - merely tipped by Ivan Yates to "narrowly win the final seat". Which has to hurt.

Lowry's red rag to a bull campaign launch on Friday was followed by widespread fudging as to whether Fine Gael will be seeking the support of Independents. Independents like Michael Lowry, specifically.

Lowry himself grandly issued the diktat that he will sit down after the next General Election, see how the numbers have fallen and assess who is in a position to form the next government. He will then make a decision on who to support.

Joan Burton finally made her feelings known: She did not think it would be "appropriate" for Michael Lowry to be part of any future government.

Enda still vacillated. But a host of Fine Gaelers, galled by Lowry's magnanimous statement, were stung into saying they don't want him and to do business with him would do damage.

"There's far too much talk about Michael Lowry, quite frankly, and I don't want to add to his profile one way or the other," huffed Simon Coveney, not seeming to realise that it doesn't matter a jot whether you talk about Lowry or not because he's never going to go away.

Far be it from Alan Kelly to walk away from a row. His party will "never work with or ask for the support of anyone like Michael Lowry", he declared.

Mr Lowry complained to Tipp FM about it.

"In relation to Alan Kelly, I'd just say that his comments smack of his customary arrogance," he said.

"The people of Tipperary know me. They know my character. They know my personality. They know my background. They have been reading this for 20 years," he said.

Eyes switched back to Alan Kelly as he pinged back the pong, at the launch of the Social Housing Output report, noting that Deputy Lowry has ruled out doing any business with Labour.

"I can verify that to be true because he hasn't done any business with me in the constituency in the last five years," he said.

"Being honest with you I don't pay much attention to Mr Lowry as I barely ever see him in the constituency and I rarely ever see him in the Dáil as well so I don't pay any attention to him."

There was the slightest of pauses as Kelly attempted to leave it at that. But failed, adding: "I'll check his attendance record."

Irish Independent

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