Tuesday 20 March 2018

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe rebukes John Delaney over canvasing

Minister Paschal Donohoe (Gareth Chaney/Collins)
Minister Paschal Donohoe (Gareth Chaney/Collins)
FAI chief executive John Delaney urged voters in Tipperary to "remember" the projects delivered for the constituency by Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

TRANSPORT Minister Paschal Donohoe has issued a rebuke to FAI chief John Delaney, insisting that senior individuals in major sporting organisation should remain outside of politics during the election campaign.

Mr Donohoe said the election should be left to “political figures” in a clear illustration of his dissatisfaction with the decision by FAI Chief John Delaney to canvass on behalf of Mr Kelly.

But speaking prior to Mr Donohoe making the remarks, Mr Kelly strongly defended Mr Delaney, who said was visiting soccer clubs on behalf of the FAI.

“He was fulfilling engagements on behalf of the FAI with me in Tipperary last Friday and I don’t see anything wrong with that whatsoever,” Mr Kelly said.

The Labour deputy leader also said he does not believe there is anything wrong for Mr Delaney to be supportive of his candidacy.

“If John Delaney feels it appropriate that people in Tipperary vote for me, that’s fine by me, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But to say he was going around campaigning, actively canvassing for me would be a long stretch of the imagination and I don’t think it’s appropriate to say that,”he told reporters.

Mr Kelly said the pair were visiting a number of soccer clubs and that the visit had been pre-arranged.

He said the pair had something to eat and discussed a number of issues such as soccer leagues in Tipperary and the upcoming FAI AGM, which is also taking place in the constituency.

He added that people are entitled to do what they like in their “own private lives” - despite already indicating that Mr Delaney visited Tipperary on behalf of the FAI.

But speaking at a separate media doorstep, Mr Donohoe was categorical that figures involved in major sporting organisations should not be on the campaign trail.

“I understand this was a long standing engagement that took place in the county that John Delaney is from and in a county that is represented by Alan Kelly,” Mr Donohoe said.

“I think however it is very important that as we move into an election period in which  people will be going out looking for votes and putting forward their own arguments as to why they should be elected that this space should be left to political figures to have that debate with people and to put their case forward and those that are involved in leading major sports organisations are not in the political arena when that is taking place,” he added.

Mr Donohoe said he has not spoken to Mr Delaney about this issue.

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