Saturday 17 August 2019

The Floating Voter: 'I had a brain fart on radio' admits Minister

The Minister for Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan
The Minister for Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A MINISTER has admitted to experiencing a ‘brain fart’ while outlining the new rules behind counting in the European elections on radio.

On RTÉ’s ‘Morning Ireland’ last Tuesday, John Paul Phelan said the transfers of the final candidate eliminated would not come into play in the constituencies set to gain an extra seat after Brexit.

But as barristers and returning officers in Dublin and Ireland South were wading through the relevant legislation, Mr Phelan reappeared on radio to clarify he had gotten the situation completely wrong.

Speaking on’s ‘Floating Voter’ podcast, the Minister for Electoral Reform has said he was embarrassed by the “cock up”.

“I had a kind of a brain fart on Morning Ireland. I admit to it. I doubted myself,” he said, adding that it was “pretty horrific”.

Mr Phelan explained that a number of people had been circulating an outdated version of the legislation on social media.

“I cocked up spectacularly so. I’ll be careful about who I take legal advice from in the future.

“It was a stupid mistake to make but who hasn’t had one of those,” he said.

In the podcast, the Carlow/Kilkenny TD also discusses the fallout from the Maria Bailey controversy.

He says as Fine Gael’s director of elections he was getting feedback from candidates around the country and “none of them were very happy”.

However, he adds: “I think it would have had a much deeper effect in a general election context.”

Speaking about the senior minister in his department, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, he says the suggesting that young people should be ‘excited’ about co-living was “perhaps unfortunate”.

Mr Phelan also discuss the failure of plebicites for directly-elected mayors in Cork and Waterford. And he outlines plans to fast-track an election for a mayor in Limerick.

Responding to cricitism of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar by ex-minister Alan Shatter in his new book, Mr Phelan suggests it’s a case of “the green-eyed monster”.

Mr Shatter claims the Taoiseach was not obsessed with his media image and not collegial.

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