FF Bring back the Haughey and Mara years, on Tour, all that Bluffing around Ireland? O’Brien is a First Class Clown?

Posted by

Backlash ends O’Brien’s nine county tour to announce handouts

John Lee  16 hrs ago


Beleaguered Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has suddenly cancelled a tour of Ireland during the lockdown, after a furious backlash.a man wearing a suit and tie© Provided by Extra.ie

Mr O’Brien had been in the middle of his nine-county visits to various areas around the country, where he planned to announce environment-friendly grants.

The cancellation of the trip – seen as an attempt to win friends within Fianna Fáil in the run-up to the expected leadership election next year – was criticised by his Coalition colleagues, who were frustrated that they had called off their departmental trips because of the fears of spreading Covid-19.a man wearing a suit and tie: Darragh O’Brien has done a u-turn on his 9 county tour to announce handouts. Picture by Shane O’Neill, Coalesce.© Provided by Extra.ie Darragh O’Brien has done a u-turn on his 9 county tour to announce handouts. Picture by Shane O’Neill, Coalesce.

The minister has already made stops in his own constituency of Balbriggan, along with visits to Cavan and Longford, where he met party colleagues and posed for photographs while announcing funding for local projects.

Until now, Minister O’Brien had insisted his nationwide roadshow, which involved announcing funding with taxpayers’ money, under Urban Regeneration Development Fund (URDF), while meeting council officials and local politicians, qualified as essential travel under the strict Level 5 restrictions.

And Tánaiste Leo Varadkar even came out to bat for him on Wednesday.

The Fine Gael leader claimed that his nine-county tour of the country to promote regeneration grants is essential work.Leo Varadkar wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a brick building: Tanaiste Leo Varadkar claimed that his nine-county tour of the country to promote regeneration grants is essential work. Pic: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie© Provided by Extra.ie Tanaiste Leo Varadkar claimed that his nine-county tour of the country to promote regeneration grants is essential work. Pic: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Minister O’Brien said that he had made the decision to cancel yesterday, as he didn’t want media commentary to ‘detract’ from a housing announcement, which he said will happen next month.

‘What I intended to do today was to meet with Sligo’s chief executive to go through their housing targets and plans for this year,’ he told Sligo’s local Ocean FM radio.

There has been some commentary in relation to me travelling outside of Dublin. Whilst I am deemed an essential worker and the housing issue is not just a Dublin issue, I didn’t want the announcements today to be in any way overshadowed or be detracted from by any further media commentary on it.’a man wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Minister O’Brien said that he had made the decision to cancel yesterday, as he didn’t want media commentary to ‘detract’ from a housing announcement, which he said will happen next month.. Pic: Fran Veale© Provided by Extra.ie Minister O’Brien said that he had made the decision to cancel yesterday, as he didn’t want media commentary to ‘detract’ from a housing announcement, which he said will happen next month.. Pic: Fran Veale

He added: ‘I just took that decision because I don’t want anything taking away from the really good news that is today – tangible supports for Sligo,’ he said.

Events in Carlow and Meath, planned for Monday, will now not go ahead. Neither will his engagement in Limerick on Friday that was due to be followed by a major housing event which was planned, alongside Taoiseach Micheál Martin, in Cork.

Mr O’Brien will now not travel for that, his spokeswoman confirmed.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said the decision to cancel the trip was made by Mr O’Brien and that Mr Martin did not intervene. However, he was unable to confirm if the event planned for Cork will still go ahead, in Mr O’Brien’s absence.Micheal Martin wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: A spokesman for the Taoiseach said the decision to cancel the trip was made by Mr O’Brien and that Mr Martin did not intervene.. Pic: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY.© Provided by Extra.ie A spokesman for the Taoiseach said the decision to cancel the trip was made by Mr O’Brien and that Mr Martin did not intervene.. Pic: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY.

There was a storm of criticism from opposition parties, and surprise from Cabinet colleagues at the planned tour in the middle of a pandemic.

We are not allowed to travel more than 5km from our homes – though Mr O’Brien, as a Cabinet minister, is classed as an essential worker.

One Fianna Fáil TD, who was not supportive of the ill-fated tour, said: ‘Micheál [Martin] wasn’t even allowed to have his family with him when he became Taoiseach but O’Brien thinks he can swan around the country.’

Mr O’Brien’s spokeswoman said last night that the plans were drawn up before Christmas with the aim being able to visit local authorities to discuss ‘housing targets, delivery’, and to visit relevant sites, while adhering to Covid-19 restrictions.Aodhán Ó Ríordáin wearing a suit and tie: Labour Party’s Aodhán Riordáin said cancelling the trip was ‘the right thing to do’. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins© Provided by Extra.ie Labour Party’s Aodhán Riordáin said cancelling the trip was ‘the right thing to do’. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

‘We are now postponing it until such a time as travel restrictions are eased. The tour is planned because we were picking up where we left off before Christmas, and again it was for essential purposes and it was permitted.

‘He is the Minister for Housing, he was meeting chief executives about housing delivery targets and site visits. But he just doesn’t want to detract from local authorities and the work they’re doing and successful projects. So he’s going to postpone it,’ she said.

She said the decision to postpone the tour was Mr O’Brien’s alone and no other Cabinet colleagues had input. However, last night Cabinet colleagues told the Irish Daily Mail that they had been ‘surprised’ at Mr O’Brien’s decision to have the tour in the first place.

‘And also, why now call it off due to travel restrictions – that have been in place since January.’

Reacting yesterday, the Labour Party’s Aodhán Riordáin said cancelling the trip was ‘the right thing to do’.

‘I think some very strict criteria needs to be laid down from the Department of the Taoiseach as to how ministers should behave themselves,’ he said.

‘It wasn’t a good look. He has realised his error, he has changed his plans and I think that is fair enough,’ he said

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s