FAI boss urges voters to reward Kelly in election
FAI chief executive John Delaney urged voters in Tipperary to "remember" the projects delivered for the constituency by Environment Minister Alan Kelly when they vote in the upcoming General Election.
The controversial football boss repeatedly highlighted Mr Kelly's record in a clear indication of his support for the Labour Party deputy leader.
In an audio recording of the pair's visit to St. Michael's football club in North Tipperary last week, Mr Delaney specifically raises the issue of the upcoming General Election.
"As (the) election comes and people get near to making decisions, I think it's always important to have a minister, irrespective of what party you represent, in your county, because ultimately people deliver," Mr Delaney told Tipperary Mid-West radio.
Mr Delaney, who has yet to respond to queries on the controversy, also suggested that more projects will be delivered for the constituency in the coming weeks.
"A lot of people often say to me: 'Well you've done a lot for Tipperary town and St Michael's football club and clubs around the country.' Well you do that because of personal connections to the clubs. It's your job to do, but also because you are in a position to do it. And Alan is in a position to help the county and he has done that with the big announcement in the Silvermines just recently, and maybe with a few more in the coming weeks or so," he said.
"That's my message - thank him for the support of the soccer clubs and also hopefully people. Because a minister is hugely important in any county to deliver for that county," he added.
Mr Delaney made the remarks in an interview given to the station's sports correspondent Stevie O'Donnell.
The remarks clearly indicate Mr Delaney's desire for Mr Kelly to succeed at the election and will heap further pressure on the FAI boss.
Sports Minister Paschal Donohoe has already expressed concern that Mr Delaney may have been speaking in his capacity as FAI chief.
An FAI spokesman refused to comment last night.
In his interview, Mr Delaney said he spent Saturday in the company of Mr Kelly visiting a number of clubs.
"Really, I suppose part of the message I'm bringing to clubs today is this Government has been very good in terms of funding for sports and capital grants programmes.
"I've worked very closely with Alan on a number of applications in this county. We got a lot of successful applications for clubs.
"It's very important to keep a minister in your own county."
In the same interview, Mr Kelly said that it is important that Tipperary is represented at the Cabinet table. He also said that he is considering travelling to the European Championships in France in June to support the Irish team.
A spokesman for Mr Kelly dismissed some of criticism levelled at the minister for the meeting.
In a statement to local media today, the minister said TDs such as Mattie McGrath were trying to "play the man and not the ball".