Queen and Rob Kearney team up to criticise Hayes as photos used on election flyer – without their permission
ROB Kearney has joined Brian O'Driscoll in being unwittingly drawn into the cut and thrust of politics after his image was used in an election campaign without his permission.
Fine Gael TD Brian Hayes, who is running in the European Parliament elections, used a photograph of himself taken between Rob Kearney and team-mate Paul O'Connell, snapped at a government function in March to honour the Six Nations heroes at Farmleigh House.
The leaflets were sent out to households in Mr Hayes's Dublin constituency.
However, when shown the photograph yesterday at the National Dairy Council Annual conference at the RDS, the rugby player – who is an ambassador for the NDC – confirmed it was the first he'd heard of it, saying he had no knowledge that his image was to be used.
"I don't know a huge amount about Brian's beliefs," he said, as he examined the photograph, adding: "Do I endorse him? No. Am I against him? No."
Kearney (28) explained that he had met the TD "briefly" at the Farmleigh function that day and had found him to be "a lovely man".
However, he said he would not like people to think that he was involved in any way in his campaign.
Compounding his lack of awareness of Hayes as a candidate, the Leinster fullback asked the constituency in which he was running.
Kearney revealed that something similar had happened in Athlone last weekend, when he was asked to get into a photograph holding a leaflet for the Lord Mayor of the town, Cllr Gabrielle McFadden.
"I felt duty-bound not to endorse it as I didn't know anything about her or what she stood for," he said, adding that it felt it would have been "misleading voters" to get involved.
And Buckingham Palace is also not happy with Brian Hayes.
A separate photograph being used on his European election leaflets sees him pictured with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
Buckingham Palace said last night that the Queen is above politics and should not be used on election literature. It added that there is strict protocol in place to ensure this situation would not happen there.
It follows revelations during the week that Brian O'Driscoll had been used in election leaflets sent out by Cllr Jane Horgan-Jones, who's running in the Clontarf ward in the May 23 Local Elections.
She used a picture of herself with the rugby hero as one of the images in her election pamphlets.
The photograph was taken during a recent Freedom of the City ceremony in the Mansion House, which saw the honour given to the former Ireland captain (35) and Fr Peter McVerry.
The Leinster star – who plays one of his last games against Ulster this weekend – denied all links with Horgan-Jones, saying he was in no way endorsing her as a candidate.
Meanwhile Rob Kearney – who is spokesperson for the National Dairy Council – spoke of his rugby diet, admitting that he did not enjoy the enforced eating as he didn't have a big appetite.
He said: "A lot of the time I'm eating for the sake of it."