Monday 27 March 2017

Kelly accused of trying to protect 'trophy projects' in his constituency

Alan Kelly Photo: Frank McGrath
Alan Kelly Photo: Frank McGrath
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Former minister Alan Kelly has been accused of trying to protect “trophy projects” in his Tipperary constituency.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath lashed out at what he described as Mr Kelly’s “big ego” following the row over the future of the Limerick-Ballybrophy rail line.

A report by the National Transport Authority (NTA) found that the line, which stops at Mr Kelly’s base in Nenagh, costs over €550 per passenger.

It is one of the most expensive lines being operated by the deeply trouble-hit Irish Rail.

Irish Rail added four extra services a day - at a cost of almost €20,000 daily - to the loss-making route in 2012.

At the time, Mr Kelly was Minister of State with responsibility for public transport.

Mr Kelly has insisted that he did not use his ministerial position to bring about the expansion.

During a heated interview on RTÉ’s ‘Morning Ireland’, Mr Kelly also attacked members of the media who reported the details of the NTA finding.

Reacting on Wednesday, Mr McGrath accused Mr Kelly of trying to bully journalists.

“We can’t have trophy projects of former ministers with big egos, which is what happened,” Mr McGrath said.

“Then he (Mr Kelly) came on yesterday morning and bullied certain journalists which is totally outrageous I believe.

“Free speech is very important and criticism is very important and I think it is outrageous how he behaved on ‘Morning Ireland’ yesterday morning. He still doesn't realise he is out of power. And he lost his position.”

Mr McGrath said he has received assurances from Transport Minister Shane Ross that no decisions have been taken in terms of service closures.

“But we can’t justify a passenger costing €550.”

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