'The last thing I can remember is her standing on my face' - Michael Healy Rae issues warning after cow attack
INDEPENDENT TD Michael Healy-Rae issued a farm safety warning as he said he was "lucky to be alive" following a cow attack.
The 49 year old was rushed to Cork University Hospital (CUH) after being hurt when he was attacked by a cow as he was feeding cattle on a Kerry farm at 6pm on Sunday evening.
The Kerry TD revealed the last thing he remembers about the attack was lying on the ground and using his foot to desperately keep the angry animal at bay.
He added his voice to the farm safety campaign, stressing that he has worked on farms all his life but was still caught unawares by an angry animal.
"I'm still standing - sort of," he said.
"This was a cow that had just calved. She was always very quiet. But to show the way things can happen, she just caught me unawares. She caught me up against the (shed) bars and gave me a good going over."
"The worst thing was she got me on the ground and when you're down on the slab, there is only so much time you can last at that. She was giving me a good going over and standing on me."
"The last thing I can remember is her standing on my face."
Luckily, the politician's son, Kevin, was nearby and he ran to his father's aid with another man, John Joe O'Reilly.
"Only for the two of them being there to pull me away I wouldn't he here to talk about it today."
"The truth of it was that I let it happen by just not being on the ball (around the cow). If I was near a cross cow I would have been on my guard. But this cow was always very, very quiet. I always thought she was fine but an animal is an animal."
He sustained badly bruised ribs in the attack but miraculously escaped major damage to his face and head.
"I'm sore all over but I know I was very, very lucky. I am also very grateful to the Gardaí and everyone at CUH."
Mr Healy Rae said he was going to discharge himself from CUH after being kept for tests and observation throughout the past two days by doctors.
"I'm well on the road to recovery and I have work to get back to," he said.
"There is a lot of very serious work to be done over the next few days and weeks (in the Dáil)."
Medical staff wanted to ensure the Kerry politician had not sustained any fractures or soft tissue injuries.
Mr Healy-Rae said his experience underlined the critical importance of farm safety awareness.
"Everyone working on farms will know what I am talking about. I thought I was good and cautious but obviously I wasn't."
He also told Newstalk he was "shocked and disgusted" by some of the virulent comments posted about him on social media following his farm accident.
"I couldn't actually believe it. If you go online and look at it, people saying I didn't get half enough. Or that they hoped the cow wasn't too badly injured. The mentality of some people...it is very bad. To be honest, it is vile."
"My family told me about it and I asked them to show me (what was being posted). I wouldn't be looking at that rubbish anymore."
"When a fella is after an accident, there is no need for people to be jumping up and down and showing they are delighted you are in a bit of trouble. It is not a nice way to go about your business."
His son, Jackie Junior, confirmed his father will be fine once he gets a chance to recuperate.
“My father is recovering well,” he said.
Mr Healy-Rae’s brother, Danny, who was elected a TD for Kerry last month, said his sibling was “quite sore but will make a full recovery.”
The family stressed that Michael Healy-Rae will be back attending to constituency business shortly.
His injuries will similarly not stop him participating in negotiations over the formation of the next Government.
Mr Healy Rae is now expected to return to his Kerry home to recuperate.
The incident occurred as the former Kerry Co Council member has emerged as a key figure in talks to form a Government in the 32nd Dail.
He made history by being elected at last month's General Election alongside his brother, Danny Healy-Rae, in the five seat Kerry constituency.
Mr Healy-Rae is now being tipped to be offered a ministerial position as both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail fight to form a minority administration.
The Kerry politician was elected to the Dail in succession to his late father, Jackie-Healy Rae, who retired from national politics in 2011.
Mr Healy-Rae was elected to Kerry Co Council in 1999 when his father had to give up his seat under the dual mandate regulations.
He has been an outspoken critic of policies by repeated governments on rural Ireland.
He has staunchly opposed the closure of rural post offices, schools and garda stations.
Speculation has mounted that he might be offered a ministerial post for rural affairs in return for securing supports from various Independent TDs for a new minority Government