Alan Kelly criticised by Tipperary rival over sod-turning at school

Independent TD Mattie McGrath says he was invited to ceremony by principal but declined

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has criticised his constituency colleague, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, for taking part in a sod-turning ceremony for a new school that was already built and lacked only a roof.

“He came down to a school in Carrick-on-Suir. It was 30 years in the offing - too long to wait for many many decades. I was on the VEC for years, so many people had so much to do with it,” said Mr McGrath on Wednesday’s Irish Times Inside Politics podcast.

"And so they're putting on the roof, and Minister Kelly decides he wants to come down to turn the sod. And it's a ridge tile he should have brought."

Mr McGrath said he was invited to the ceremony by the school principal as he was involved in fundraising, but declined. “I said, ‘Look, let him have it. Let him fall off the roof.’ ”


Mr McGrath is running in Tipperary, a new five-seater constituency where Michael Lowry is also running as an Independent candidate.

"He's a competitor of mine now. We never had any difficulties, there was a border between us, so. We were like two, pardon the expression, two bulls in the field, but there was a big wall between us, we were able to tear the ground on each side and do our own business. But Michael has a very serous relationship with Fine Gael. He was part of Fine Gael, lets face it," said Mr McGrath.

He said he would be willing to negotiate with Fine Gael if they asked him to support a government.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan had asked him if he would be interested in such a deal "a few times at the bar over the last six months", he said.

Photo Joe Kenny - sod turning at school in Carrick December 2015

Declan Conlon

Declan Conlon

Declan Conlon is head of audio at The Irish Times