Michael Healy-Rae has suggested the Dáil be moved to Kerry and has hit out at the “begrudgers” whom he said have continuously attacked his family’s Kerry political dynasty.
The Kerry TD defended his reportedly high attendance rate at funerals and described the massive volume of parliamentary questions he submitted at a cost of €200 each as a “myth” and “nonsense”.
Mr Healy-Rae revealed that, during Government formation talks, Taoiseach Enda Kenny had indicated to him that many believed he should be given a ministerial position.
However, in a candid interview with Marty Morrissey on RTÉ’s Ryan Tubridy Show yesterday, Mr Healy-Rae said: “For anybody to say I let Kerry down, or I refused a ministry, that’s not true. The truth of the story is that, during the course of those discussions and negotiations, the Taoiseach did say to me that everyone was saying to him that he should appoint me as the minister with special responsibility for rural affairs. But at that time the Taoiseach hadn’t even started talking to Fianna Fáil.
“I said to him: ‘We are a long way away from anything like that, because you have to talk to Fianna Fáil first, because you are going nowhere without them,’ and we left it open.
“But when he was in a position to give out the jobs, I didn’t get a call.”
It was recently revealed that the Kerry TD asked 115 parliamentary questions of Health Minister Simon Harris in one day.
These queries mostly related to hospital appointments for individuals. These types of queries, which are lodged by TDs on behalf of constituents, have been estimated to cost around €200 each.
Hitting back at the criticism, Mr Healy-Rae said: “That’s a myth, that’s nonsense.”
He said civil servants are “paid every month” and it is part of their job to research and answer parliamentary questions. “It’s not as if private contractors are hired in to answer questions or any nonsense like that,” he said.
“These people are doing their job. I will never apologise or back down if parents come to me about sick children, or if there are people waiting on waiting lists I will highlight these issues. I will hold ministers to account and I don’t care what department they are in.”
Mr Healy-Rae and his brother Danny were recently criticised by Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Cahill, who said they often attend funerals of people they do not know and claimed they send “bereavement packs” to families in Kerry.
However, Mr Healy-Rae said: “I’m always respectful and I go to the people I know. I was never in my life at a funeral of someone that I didn’t know or that I wasn’t connected with in some way or the other.
“One week I was going to too many funerals, the next week I was asking too many questions. What do these people want, for me to dig a hole and get into it and hide and not be seen out?”
On the subject of the Dáil moving away from the capital, Mr Healy-Rae said that it would be “a lot more convenient” to move the Dáil to Kerry.
“We have plenty of locations that we could put it and it might be no harm to make the rest of the people from around the country come to Kerry every week,” said Mr Healy-Rae.
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