Having FAI chief executive, John Delaney, canvass for him in his Tipperary constituency was not an example of cronyism, Environment Minister and Labour party member Alan Kelly has insisted, adding that it was “the funniest story I had had to deal with”.
But, his fellow TDs are divided on the issue, with Sports Minister Michael Ring the latest to become involved, saying he would prefer if politics at election time was left to politicians.
Mr Ring, Fine Gael, however said he had no issue with Mr Delaney’s actions as the FAI was a private organisation but if Mr Delaney worked for a semi-state body “he would have to resign”.
Mr Ring said he had seen all kinds of people backing candidates over the years. “Some of them I didn’t like backing against myself and I had to take them on to win my seat, so all I’ll say is I would prefer if politics was left when the election is on to the politicians”.
Mr Alan Kelly said: “The idea that people would not take an active interest in politics if they are involved in a private club is not realistic. It is not realistic not to have an interest in politics. He was doing so in a private capacity.
“If national private organisations make a decision to back a political campaign, everyone is entitled to do that, everyone can engage in politics”.
Asked if Mr Delaney would be interested in being a candidate in the coming general election, Mr Kelly said: “He would be quite good, better than most, sport is a premier type of politics anyway”.
But he absolutely refuted that the Labour party was involved in cronyism that included the Tánaiste and Labour leader, Joan Burton appointing former trade unionist David Begg to chair the pensions board and he couldn’t think of a better person for the job.
“There were no rules broken — this is complete political scoring,” he said, adding that he found it incredible that Shane Ross, TD, would put down such an issue. “The same man who wrote a large article saying that Shaunie Fitzpatrick should be governor of the Central Bank”, he added.
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