Cork TD Michael Collins apologises for calling Shane Ross a 'scumbag'

Cork TD Michael Collins apologises for calling Shane Ross a 'scumbag'

Independent TD for Cork South West, Michael Collins, has apologised for calling Shane Ross "a scumbag", saying "I probably was tired" when he made the comment.

The 51-year-old, re-elected to Dáil Éireann on the first count as he topped the poll in last weekend's election, said the language used was "over the top".

While Shane Ross accepted Deputy Collins's apology, the original comment prompted a furious response from former Junior Minister John Halligan, who said Deputy Collins was "beneath contempt".

“I am absolutely disgusted at the language used by Michael Collins TD in describing Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross," the former Waterford TD said.

“At a time when so many political figures and decision-makers are inundated with online abuse, this man - who says he ‘always tries to play the ball and not the man’ - has gone out of his way to further fan the flames of hatred and kick a fellow politician while he is down.

“Collins is beneath contempt.”

Deputy Collins, from Schull, has had a difficult relationship with the former Transport Minister, who lost his seat in Dublin Rathdown in last weekend's election.

On the campaign trail, Deputy Collins described Mr Ross as "a clown" and in the immediate aftermath of his win last Sunday at the count centre in Clonakilty he said the outgoing Transport Minister was now "on the scrapheap of Irish politics".

He repeated that claim during post-count celebrations but also referred to Mr Ross as "a scumbag".

Speaking on RTÉ radio's Today with Sean O'Rourke programme, the TD apologised for the comment, stating that "very little drink" had been taken and that he normally "plays the ball and not the man or the woman" in politics.

"I probably was tired," he said. "I met people at the door who were absolutely furious and there's no other word in Cork south-west with the way the previous government had carried on with so many terrible decisions that were made against the people of rural Ireland...

I give an apology for that word but I certainly don't give an apology for what has happened to rural Ireland and for me to stand up on behalf of those people.

Mr Collins said he withdrew the "scumbag" comment saying his language was over the top.

Cork TD Michael Collins apologises for calling Shane Ross a 'scumbag'

Joining the conversation the former Independent TD for Dublin Rathdown Shane Ross told Sean O'Rourke he accepted Mr Collins' apology and congratulated him on his re-election.

"Of course I do," Mr Ross said. "There's no way that I could do anything else".

He added people often use colourful language in the heat of battle and afterwards.

Mr Collins had previously claimed that Mr Ross, while Minister, had wrecked rural Ireland, referring to increased Vat in the tourism sector which he said had led to the closure of businesses in his constituency and elsewhere.

On RTÉ Radio he also referred to the new measures introduced by the last government to cut drink-driving levels, stating that the policy should have been considered in light of its impact in rural areas.

Mr Ross, also speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke, said he understood Deputy Collins's sentiments about rural Ireland but that the number of deaths on roads on rural Ireland have reduced since he introduced tougher drink driving measures.

He said he also accepted that increased Vat in the tourism sector has damaged businesses, but said that he had opposed, and fought against, the measures which were ultimately adopted by the last government.

Mr Ross also said he believes it will take quite a long time for a new government to be formed and urged Mr Collins to "get in there and talk and push for what he believes in" as it was currently a very fluid situation.

Listen to the full exchange below:

- Additional reporting Digital Desk

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