There were explosive scenes in the Dáil today after a row broke out between two Kerry TD's over the new rural transport initiative - 'drink link.'
The row erupted after Mr Healy-Rae asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar whether he stood by a comment made by Transport Minister Shane Ross last week branding him a "road traffic terrorist".
The dispute gained momentum when Junior Transport Minister Brendan Griffin criticised Healy-Rae for opposing the roll out of the pilot initiative.
Mr Griffin said it was a very progressive step.
He said: "It is a major step forward in terms of rolling out in rural Ireland, the type of transport services that are available in urban parts of Ireland."
Mr Healy-Rae hit back saying: "“You’re letting down the people of Kerry” and a heightened argument between the pair followed.
Leas-Ceann Comhairle, Pat Gallagher tried to gain control of the situation saying, "We are not going to play the Kerry game here. It can be played in Croke Park."
It comes as a number of TDs, including the two Healy-Rae brothers, have vehemently opposed the progression of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill from going through the chamber.
The controversial bill would lower the threshold for an automatic drink-driving disqualification Danny Healy-Rae told the Dáil that it is “ridiculous” to think that eight routes in Kerry are supposed to meet the needs of “all the rural people who will be isolated in their homes following the passage of this bill”.
Responding, Mr Griffin said: “I am not sure if Deputy Danny Healy-Rae welcomes it but I know his brother has not welcomed the scheme.
He did, however, welcome it on Radio Kerry. He said even if there is one route in one part of Kerry he would welcome it, once a week. Now in May he is not welcoming it.”
Michael Healy-Rae had hit out at the new rural bus routes during an RTÉ Prime Time debate on Tuesday where he went head to head with Transport Minister Shane Ross.
Mr Healy-Rae claimed the funding is “not enough for one county, let alone the whole country”. “The buses are a load of nonsense,” said Mr Healy-Rae.
However, in December, Mr Healy-Rae said that he would support any additional services and would be “delighted” to see even one extra bus route.
Speaking on Radio Kerry, Mr Healy-Rae said: “I never said I was opposed to anything. I am a Kerry TD for all of Co Kerry; any additional service proposed, or definitely coming, would have to be welcomed by me and I would gladly welcome it.
“If it was only one extra route every week wouldn’t I be delighted to see that service.”
“Of course I would support the proposal."
However, he did add that he thought the plans were a “smokescreen” and it was “cynical” to come out with a plan to extend rural services when they were voting on drink-driving regulations Mr Healy-Rae strongly defended his stance when contacted by the Irish Examiner last night.
He claimed the announcement to provide new routes is simply a “sop” and a “PR exercise”.
“This will have no impact in Co Kerry, it won’t compensate for what they are doing now,” he said.
- Digital Desk & Elaine Loughlin