A split emerged in the Healy-Rae team after the newly elected Danny called on all Independents not to vote for Enda Kenny. However, Michael Healy-Rae said that would mean there would be an election and he was not mentally, physically or financially able for one.
Danny voted against Mr Kenny on Friday; Michael abstained.
Michael Healy-Rae, who got 20,387 first preference votes in Kerry, the highest in the country, said yesterday morning he was offered the position of rural minister some weeks ago in opening talks with Enda Kenny.
Mr Kenny told him he agreed with his suggestion there should be a minister for rural affairs and the acting Taoiseach told the Independent he would be “seriously interested” in giving him that position, Mr Healy-Rae said on Radio Kerry.
The offer did not materialise — and it is understood this was particularly after Danny Healy-Rae showed his hand and said he could not support Mr Kenny or Fine Gael, and calling on all other Independents not to vote for him either, a declaration which weakened Michael’s position.
The Fianna Fail TD in Kerry John Brassil said Michael and Danny between them had 30,000 first-preference votes in the constituency and the Healy-Raes had “passed up a golden opportunity for Kerry,” in not going for what was a senior ministry for the county.
“It’s an opportunity lost for the county,” Mr Brassil said.
A minister in a rural county like Kerry was “invaluable”, he said.