Kenny, Martin back rural affairs minister, says Healy-Rae

Saturday 26 March 2016 19.58
Michael Healy Rae topped the poll in Kerry last month
Michael Healy Rae topped the poll in Kerry last month

Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin have both backed the idea of a minister for rural affairs during recent talks on the formation of a government, according to Independent TD Michael Healy Rae.

Speaking on Countrywide on RTÉ Radio One, Mr Healy Rae said rural Ireland had been left behind and that a senior minister was needed for rural affairs and "not rural development".

"I really think that the ministers and the outgoing government thought that the world stopped at the Red Cow roundabout," he said, referencing Dublin's M50 motorway which loops around the capital. 

He said both Mr Kenny and Mr Martin said there would be a position for rural affairs if either were to lead the next government.

RTÉ Countrywide: Michael Healy Rae on the need for a minister for rural affairs

Mr Healy Rae, who was elected alongside his brother in the Kerry constituency last month, said creating a senior cabinet position to deal with rural matters was "terrible important".

When asked if he would be interested in being part of a new government and taking on such a position he said he would not rule himself out.

"I listen to everything, I see what arises," he said. 

“If an opportunity was ever to arise to me that made sense and that was a good thing and that would be a good thing for the people that I represent."

He added: "It would be a very foolish politician would ever rule themselves out of something without knowing what they were ruling themselves out of."

Meanwhile, the acting Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said that Fianna Fáil needed to clarify its position on Irish Water.

Mr Donohoe said that Fianna Fáil had indicated one position on Irish Water during the election, another in its aftermath and "they now appear to be saying something completely different".

Mr Donohoe said that discussions with smaller parties and Independents have been constructive. Mr Donohoe said Fine Gael had indicated that when the party was at a point where those discussions have been advanced, there will be a need to sit down with with other like-minded parties and that will include Fianna Fáil. 

He described Fianna Fáil's stance on Irish Water as "very unclear", but said that Fine Gael's stance was "very very clear".

"We believe that Irish Water can play a vital role in making sure we have safe and secure water for Ireland for the future," he added.