Minister Alan Kelly rejects Mattie McGrath claims

Dear Editor,

Dear Editor,

It was with some irony I read your front page report in last week’s edition entitled ‘Minister Kelly accused of spinning reduced funding for Tipp roads’.

In the article it is outlined how as a Minister in the Dept of Transport I had across various media notified the public across Tipperary of the allocations for 2013 of approximately €23 million to be spent on various road improvements, safety schemes and other measures including the new Link road in Tipperary Town, who I met with Council officials about just prior to announcing the funding.

In your article you quote Deputy Mattie McGrath who says I’m partaking in ‘blatant, naked political opportunism’. That coming from Deputy McGrath given his ‘made for public’ performances both nationally and locally is quite ironic and laughable.

I certainly know I’m not alone in thinking that. Deputy McGrath is missing some facts as usual and has also a short memory. He seems to have forgotten that a council delegation led by the County Manager and Mayor along with Cllrs across parties came to meet me in the Department of Transport at 2.30pm on September 27th last asking for an additional special allocation for 2012 for South Tipp Roads (in particular roads in Fethard, Ballyporeen and Hollyford amongst other areas) and I worked with the officials in the Department to secure South Tipp County Council an extra €837,542 (as reported in this paper).

It wasn’t easy to find this funding but it was achieved. Deputy McGrath knows this because he was present at the meeting. Unlike Deputy McGrath, many of the Cllrs who were part of the delegation have been in touch with me to thank me for my efforts with this. Furthermore, I have never said that funding for 2013 was increased or on a par as years before. In fact I believe we are doing the best with what we can in the current economic circumstances and I know many roads are in a terrible state.

How Deputy McGrath though thinks we as a Government can come up with funding in every area of public concern when he is one of the TDs in the previous Government that got us into this economic mess is beyond me. We as a country are borrowing approximately €46 million a day to cover this mess. He seems to also question my need and right to act as a public representative to inform people across Tipperary of local roads funding.

I might remind Deputy McGrath of two things. I am the only public representative in the county who has previously ran in an election that has covered the whole county (European Parliament 2009) so I’d say I know the county and its residents pretty well and secondly and more importantly I was the only member of the Oireachtas (Seanad 2007) from this great county who voted against bailing out Seanie Fitzpatrick, Michael Fingleton, Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide when the previous Government of which he was a member tied the greedy debts of these banks to the tax payer through the disastrous bank bail out of September 2008 .

This was the single worst economic decision made by any Government in the history of this state and I stood alone in Co. Tipperary in voting against it. We would be in a less perilous economic situation today if Deputy McGrath had followed my lead. Maybe then we as a Government wouldn’t have to make some of the tough decisions we have had to make and Mattie maybe then we could get more of the roads improved. Fact not Spin.

Yours,

Minister Alan Kelly TD