McGrath and Healy in bitter row as campaign heats up

Election row

Independent TDs Mattie McGrath and Seamus Healy have become embroiled in a bitter war of words as the general election campaign enters its final week.

The row centres over remarks Deputy McGrath made in a radio interview where it is claimed he hinted he would work with a Fine Gael government, and had even been approached by Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Deputy Healy launched a stinging attack on the Newcastle man, claiming that Deputy McGrath's support for Fine Gael would represent support for water charges and property tax among other controversial government decisions.

And this week Fine Gael TD Noel Coonan joined the debate to claim that Minister Noonan had never contacted Deputy McGrath.

“”There is no basis in fact whatsoever' regarding allegations from Mattie McGrath TD about Minister Noonan”, he said.

"This is incorrect and based on no fact. Minister Noonan did not contact him. I have received clarification on the matter from the Minister himself and he has asked I update the matter accordingly.

"Mattie's announcement smacks of desperation and he is one of a number of candidates seeking support from Fine Gael.

"The people of Tipperary decide the outcome of the election. I am focused on winning two seats for Fine Gael in Tipperary and should I be successful there will be no need for support of independents whose tendency is to destabilise Government”.

Deputy Healy said Mattie McGrath cannot continue to 'run with the hare and hunt with the hounds'.

He said Mattie McGrath offers to support a Fine Gael Government in the next Dáil and that

Michael Noonan, chief architect of the cuts, had approached him.

“In his announcement Mattie McGrath did not set out any of the issues below as “red line issues” for his support.

We must therefore assume that Mattie is prepared to support the following policies to which Fine Gael are committed to implement in the next government -

Water Charges to be continued;

Family home tax to be continued;

Exorbitant interest rates on mortgage holders, twice the European average, to be continued;

and eviction of Tipperary families from their homes by government owned banks to be continued.

But Deputy McGrath accused Deputy Healy of

'deliberately misrepresenting” his views,

and said it should be obvious that his overwhelming concern is to maximise the benefit for the people of Tipperary in a post general election scenario.

“I have no notion of being a prop to this discredited government or any future government. But what I do want is to use any mandate that I am fortunate enough to receive to the best possible effect.

“Now clearly Seamus is terrified of moving beyond perpetual protest into an area where he can actually achieve something for the people of our county.

“I have no such hesitation and will unashamedly seek the best interests of our people whenever and wherever I can.

On Irish Water and distressed mortgage holders, he said he is the only Tipperary opposition politician that has brought forward actual legislative proposals to address these matters in the form of Private Members Bills.

“Both my Water Services Amendment Bill and my Land and Conveyancing Reform Bill are serious and credible attempts to actually do something about the government’s agenda in these areas.

“What I ask has Deputy Healy done, except shout from the side lines while avoiding the hard work that could actually make a real difference?”