Transport Minister Shane Ross has defended his increasingly criticised performance in office since joining Government, insisting there is “not one scintilla” of evidence to suggest he is failing in his role.
He issued the staunch defence during a Tourism Ireland press conference in which he was repeatedly questioned about recent media criticism of him, the judiciary row and other matters.
With Independent Alliance colleague junior minister John Halligan warning it would be a “fatal error” for Enda Kenny to sack Mr Ross from cabinet, Mr Ross said he did nothing wrong.
He said it would be “nonsense” to suggest he was not performing in his role at a time when tourism figures are surging.
“I’ll be absolutely straightforward, it’s been a record year for tourism which we’re absolutely proud of.
“I think there’ll be another record year next year which we’re absolutely proud of as well, so any criticism I’m not spending enough time in tourism and sport is complete and utter nonsense.
“There is simply no evidence produced by anybody to support that, not one scintilla,” he said.
Mr Ross had also been criticised for a perceived slowness in appointing officials to State boards.
However, the 36 vacancies left on boards under his control is the same as that left by his predecessor, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe.
On February 23, three days before the general election and before the Independent Alliance entered power, there were 36 vacancies on transport-related State boards, the same figure as on November 23.
Mr Ross has also been criticised in recent months for clashes with the Taoiseach and others on Ireland’s neutrality, abortion, the independence of the judiciary and other matters.
However, while the friction has frustrated a number of Fine Gael ministers, Mr Halligan said it would be dangerous for Fine Gael to remove him from cabinet.
Speaking at a separate event yesterday, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar said while ministers, in general, speak for themselves they are “also part of a collective” while in cabinet.
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