By Elaine Loughlin, Political Reporter with Irish Examiner
Alan Kelly has said dealing with water charges was “very, very difficult” and he still fears for his personal safety.
Labour’s deputy leader has also said that he still has ambitions to lead the political party.
Speaking this morning the Tipperary TD described water charges and Irish Water as “probably the most difficult political issue in 30 years” adding that it had impacted on his family.
“It was very emotional dealing the issues of threats to your family, threats to your staff. I felt my personal safety was threatened for a long period of time. I still feel to a certain extent that it’s threatened,” he said.
“So many people don’t know what Irish Water does, many politicians sitting in Dáil Éireann don’t know what they do, I challenge Fianna Fáil in particular to go and visit them,” he told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke show.
The acting Environment Minister was speaking ahead of appearing on the catwalk in a charity event organised by the girlfriend of FAI boss John Delaney.
Mr Kelly courted controversy during the election campaign when it emerged that Mr Delaney, Tipperary native, attended a number of events in the Environment Minister’s constituency where he encouraged people to vote for Labour.
“Later on tonight I’m partaking in a fashion show, your public will be delighted to hear,” he told the radio show.
“It’s being run by Emma English who is a partner of John Delaney’s, being coordinated with the FAI. It’s for the Johnny Giles trust, and also for Brother Kevin who runs some great homeless services here in Dublin,” he said.
Mr Kelly said it would be up to party leader Joan Burton to decide when to step down, but did not rule out contesting the leadership when that happens.
“Joan will make her own decision and when that decision is made I’ll answer that question,” he said of running for party leader.
Mr Kelly added: “I believe people will put themselves forward. If they feel I should do it I will. I’ve always said it would be an ambition to lead the Labour Party and that hasn’t changed.”