Showdown: Minister Alan Kelly faces his constituency rival - perennial poll-topper Michael Lowry
It was the Gunfight at the ‘AK’ Corral today as Minister Alan Kelly faced his deadly constituency rival – the perennial poll-topper Michael Lowry.
A debate organised and broadcast live by Tipp FM was held at the Horse and Jockey hotel in Thurles, Co Tipperary and also featured a line-up of other public representatives, including Fianna Fail candidate Sinead Ambrose, Fine Gael’s Noel Coonan, Independent candidate Seamus Healy and Sinn Fein’s Seamus Morris.
But if the truth be told, all anyone wanted to hear were the jibes between Minister Kelly and Mr Lowry.
And they were not disappointed.
After Mr Lowry accused the Minister of making false job promises for Tipperary, with announcements like that of the development of Silvermines for hydroenergy – a project which has yet to receive planning.
Alan Kelly replied that he found such accusations “incredible – but then again, not surprising from the type of person they’re coming from.”
He then went on to goad Mr Lowry about the casino he had once promised for Thurles.
“We’re sitting here in the Horse and Jockey – the Horse and Jockey where there was a big fanfare was made about a certain casino announced by the person who just spoke before me.”
“A big fanfare in relation to a casino, five or longer - was it six years ago – but it’s not here. I went around, I looked around while I was driving here this morning and obviously its not here.”
“It’s absolutely incredible, the statement coming from Michael Lowry.. If he had actually went and spoken to the people behind some of those projects... trying to score political points, for the reasons for which he always does."
The Minister went on to defend the Silvermines project saying the people behind it had been working on it for “many, many years.”
He claimed that while Mr Lowry had been a public representative for the last 29 years, many factories had closed in Thurles – whereas he himself was able to get projects moving in the last two years.
Mr Lowry retorted: “Alan, you made two bogus promises in 2010, you made a bogus promise about a million for entrepreneurs that never materialised. Address those two issues.”
“You address the casino,” replied the Minister, sparking laughter amongst the crowd of invited guests.
The Minister said he had not promised any jobs but the companies had.
As polling day draws ever closer, the showdown between the two could prove to have been a crucial one.