TD does son's grass cutting

Thu, May 24, 2012, 01:00

MICHAEL HEALY-RAE TD has said he was cutting the grass in Killarney last Monday because he was filling in for his son who had a hospital appointment.

The Kerry South TD’s company Roughty Plant Hire operates the contract for grass cutting for Kerry County Council on the major routes in and around Killarney. A council spokesman said the contract was awarded on an annual basis after a tender process.

On Monday, Mr Healy-Rae was operating the machine to cut the grass in the Muckross area on the outskirts of the town.

Declining to be photographed, he said he was carrying out the machine work to help his son that morning.

Asked about reports that he was previously seen cutting grass in the area, Mr Healy-Rae said a previous appearance was due to breakdowns when he was called to tend to machinery. That was “a month ago”, he said.

On Monday his son had a hospital appointment and he was filling in for a family emergency, he added. It was not the type of story that should be written, Mr Healy-Rae said.

He pleaded robustly with the photographer not to take his photograph.

On the Dáil register of members’ interests, Mr Healy-Rae lists plant hire as his number one interest, ahead of others including owner of a petrol station, a postmaster, a politician and a farmer.

He also owns a substantial amount of land and property, according to the register, where 14 properties are listed, together with his private house.

His mowing work astonished several members of Kerry County Council. One of the councillors came to a sudden stop when they realised who was sitting on the machine, they said privately.

Another councillor thought it might be voluntary effort for the Tidy Towns competition, of which Killarney was a winner last year. However, a council spokesman confirmed the grass cutting was carried out on a contract basis.

It is not the first time Mr Healy-Rae’s machine work has sparked comments.

In August 2008 residents in Banna Beach near Tralee were furious at sand dune work carried out by Mr Healy-Rae, then a county councillor, as part of a private contract for a caravan park owner. Then a TD’s son he was pictured carrying out machinery work at a caravan park in Co Kerry.

The residents, who photographed the then councillor, said the sand was being taken from the dunes to cover sewer pipes at the caravan park.

But Mr Healy-Rae said he was not interfering with the area and “was not knocking sand dunes”.

The owner of the caravan park said he was entitled to carry out renewal of services work.