'Parish-pump politics is part of who I am' - minister
Finian McGrath has defended 'parish-pump' politics by insisting that he and other Independent Alliance ministers are right to push for services in their own constituencies.
Mr McGrath made no apologies for what he himself described as "local parish-pump stuff" that he achieved in 2017, saying it was "part of who I am".
He said that securing agreement for the planning phase of a new €40m emergency department at Beaumont Hospital to begin was one of his highlights from last year.
The Disabilities Minister is also pressing for a new cystic fibrosis unit for the hospital, which is located in the heart of his Dublin Bay North constituency.
He argued that new services at Beaumont would benefit patients from other areas too.
Independent Alliance ministers have taken flak from Opposition politicians for campaigning for services in their own constituencies - most notably Transport Minister Shane Ross for his campaign to have Stepaside Garda station reopened.
But Mr McGrath said: "I think Shane was right to fight for Stepaside."
He also said the junior minister for training and skills, John Halligan, was "100pc" justified in seeking extra cardiac care services for Waterford Hospital.
Mr McGrath pointed to the extra funding he secured for disabilities in the Budget as another of his highlights from 2017, which he described as "a mixture there of national issues and local parish-pump stuff".
He said: "They're all important and they're all equally valuable."
Asked what he would say to people who criticise parish-pump politics, Mr McGrath responded: "I'm elected in Dublin Bay North to represent my constituents and I want to get as many services into that area as possible.
"That's my job as a TD."
But he also argued that the new emergency department at Beaumont Hospital and the proposed cystic fibrosis unit would be used by patients from across Dublin and the surrounding counties.
"So it's a public health issue and as far as I'm concerned; people are slagging me about it being parish pump but that's part of who I am."
Mr McGrath added that prior to his entry into Government he had never seen himself as a minister but that deal-making was in his "gene-pool".
Mr McGrath said he started out in politics as an election worker for the late Tony Gregory, the Independent TD who famously made a constituency deal with then-Taoiseach Charlie Haughey in the 1980s.