Thursday 18 January 2018

War of words: Independent TD accuses Alan Kelly of 'hiding from voters in his van' while out canvassing

Alan Kelly, inset, Mattie McGrath
Alan Kelly, inset, Mattie McGrath

David Kearns

Environment Minister Alan Kelly and Independent TD Mattie McGrath have traded vocal blows over accusations that the former had to hide from voters while canvassing in Tipperary.

Deputy Kelly accused his constituency colleague of lying when Mr McGrath said last Sunday the Labour TD was forced to “take cover” in the Independent's van while knocking on doors in Cashel.

Alan Kelly TD
Alan Kelly TD

“You weren’t allowed to canvas in Cashel last Sunday,” Mr McGrath said in response to Mr Kelly's claim that, in Tipperary, water charges were not a priority for most voters.

“You had to go into my van for cover…” he began before being cut short by the Environment Minister.

Mattie McGrath
Mattie McGrath

“Don’t tell lies,” Mr Kelly said.

“I’m not telling lies, I wouldn’t tell lies,” retorted Deputy McGrath.

“You had to hide inside my van…”

Mr Kelly continued: “Stop telling lies…”

Read More: Floating Voter 1: Kelly's 'Premier Pen' has got the Tipp to kick-start the election

The heated exchange happened as the pair were taking part in an election round table along side Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Smith on Newstalk earlier today.

“You won't bully me in Tipperary for the next three weeks", Minister Kelly told Deputy McGrath during the Breakfast show.

More than once during the discussions, host Chris Donoghue was forced to tell the election candidates to stop “shouting at each other, please".

Asked about the importance of water charges as election issue, Mr McGrath took offense to Minister Kelly saying jobs were the number one concern for voters.

“The biggest issue, without a shadow of a doubt is jobs,” Mr Kelly said.

“There will always be people who have an issue, no matter what it is – health, education, [Irish Water], they will always have an issue… but here in [Tipperary] when I go to the doors, jobs are number one.”

Read More: Alan Kelly: 'Power is a drug . . . it suits me'

“[Water charges] is every door,” Mr McGrath replied before bringing up the alleged incident in Cashel last Sunday.

Another hot topic for the panel was the issue of Garda numbers, which Minister Kelly said would be addressed when the resources were available.

But Councillor Smith replied: "I think we could have a lot more guards if we didn't have €420 million wasted on metres".

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