Green Party leader and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan “does not like big roads” and reluctantly accepted a number of bypasses in the National Development Plan (NDP), Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.
Speaking at a private meeting of the Fianna Fáil party, Mr Martin faced down stinging criticism from his own TDs and senators over the Green’s blocking of key road projects.
Responding, Mr Martin made clear that Mr Ryan is opposed to major road projects, including motorways like the proposed M20 between Cork and Limerick, and they may have to make do with bypasses for now.
He said that Mr Ryan only mentioned the Western Corridor in an interview on the NDP because “I told him to”.
Mr Ryan’s refusal to meet with Dublin TDs was also raised and Mr Martin told his TDs they should have come to him and he would have sorted it.
Former Minister Dara Calleary was among a number of TDs who were deeply critical of the NDP and questioned the ability of the State to deliver such projects.
TDs including Barry Cowen expressed concern at the decision to send Chief Whip Jack Chambers to Armagh to attend a partition event.
Members demanded a full meeting to discuss the North but Mr Martin rejected this.
Kilkenny TD John McGuinness hit out at the recent treatment of ex-Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry, saying it was disgraceful how he was treated given the service his family has given to the party.
Cork North Central TD Pádraig O'Sullivan hit out at the delay in treatment for scoliosis sufferer Adam Terry and "handing the issue" to Labour's Alan Kelly.
Earlier, the meeting had heard stark warnings on rising Covid-19 cases, with Mr Martin telling TDs there has been "a sudden increase in cases and deaths".
Mr Martin said there are some issues of concern with Covid, echoing earlier remarks by senior medical staff around the same.
It came as more than 2,000 cases of the virus were confirmed and deputy chief medical officer Ronan Glynn raised concerns about the number of unvaccinated people in the country.
"There has been a sudden increase of cases and mortality has been rising compared rot the summer. We will weigh everything up as we progress towards the 22nd," Mr Martin said.
He said the Government's advisory group on vaccines, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, is expected to make the recommendation on the rollout of booster jabs over the coming days.
"Once the decision is made we will ensure that the vaccines will be rolled out without delay," he said.
Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar warned a meeting of his own party that the rising Covid numbers are a cause for concern.
A shorter than usual meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party heard the metrics are “worrying” and “going in the wrong direction”.
Mr Varadkar also pointed to more than 300,000 adults who have not taken the vaccine.
He said it is a personal choice for everyone but that those choices have effects on other people.
The Government will discuss the rising Covid numbers and make a decision on the October 22 reopening date at next Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
The Fine Gael meeting also heard broadly positive reactions to this week's budget.
A number of members including Emer Higgins and Senator Joe O’Reilly voicing support for the measures announced.
“It was one of the most positive PPs I have been to in a long time,” one source said.
“There was no back-slapping but people recognise that the budget went well,” one party source said.