Minister 'resigns' from fowl comment debate
Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has "resigned" from a social media debate over the origin of chicken from one of Ireland's supermarket chains.
The Labour TD deleted a tweet he posted on Sunday evening which ignited a stream of replies over comments made about poultry products from Tesco.
"I have a big issue with branding in Tesco. Only one of these 'Irish' products benefits our economy," he told his 15,000 Twitter followers.
He posted three photographs of chicken products which displayed the Bord Fáilte Quality Assurance Mark. Two of them were sourced from farms in Northern Ireland.
Some Twitter users called on the minister to apologise for his comments.
Mr Ó Ríordáin's Labour Party colleague Sean Sherlock, junior minister for trade promotion and North South co-operation, was asked if he agreed with his colleague's views. Mr Sherlock tweeted: "Am sure there's little between a Tyrone chicken and a Monaghan one."
In reply, Mr Ó Ríordáin wrote: "I just resigned from the chicken debate."
Former Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile tweeted: "Maybe the government minister doesn't see me as equally Irish".
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Cllr O Donnghaile said the original tweet "was poor from the minister". He said ministers should have a national perspective "rather than a 26-county perspective".
Mr Ó Ríordáin's comments come as Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and his northern counterpart Michelle O'Neill are set to discuss the issue of an 'Island of Ireland' food label.