Healy-Rae denies being asked to join Government: ‘I was not asked to dance’

Dáil suspended as Paschal Donohoe accused of telling a ‘lie’ by Kerry TD

The Dáil was briefly suspended after Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae furiously accused the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, of lying when he said the Kerry TD chose not to join the Government after 74 days of talks.

 

The Dáil was suspended after a row erupted when Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae claimed Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe had told a “lie” over the Kerry Deputy’s role in the formation of the Government.

Mr Healy-Rae took the Minister to task when Mr Donohoe said that the Kerry TD had “ultimately decided not to join” the Government after it was formed following 74 days of talks.

Mr Healy-Rae repeatedly called on Mr Donohoe to withdraw the remark and insisted he had not been asked to join the Government.

He said: “It’s like asking a girl up to dance - if she says no you can’t dance.” He insisted that “I was not asked to dance”.

The row began during a finance question about the increase from 9 per cent back to 13 per cent in the tourism VAT rate.

Mr Healy-Rae referred to the formation of the Government and said “we gave 74 days and I was there every day formulating the programme for government”.

He said one of the commitments was for the tourism sector.

Mr Donohoe acknowledged Mr Healy-Rae’s involvement in the talks, “but you ultimately also decided not to join”.

The Kerry TD said that was a “lie”, dishonest and unfair.

Acting Cathaoirleach Eugene Murphy was forced to adjourn the House for 15 minutes when Mr Healy-Rae refused to sit down until Mr Donohoe withdrew the remark.

When the House returned, Mr Healy-Rae claimed that, during the Government formation talks, then taoiseach Enda Kenny called him into a room and said “it would be a good thing if I was a minister in a future government”.

The Kerry TD said Mr Kenny had not spoken to Fianna Fail and there was another time for that talk.

But he said: “The incoming taoiseach never picked up the phone to me and I never got a phone call.”

Mr Healy-Rae had asked Mr Donohoe to undertake another review of the increase in VAT on tourism.

But the Minister said they had reviewed the increase and there did not seem to be a case for another review.

Mr Donohoe said there were more tourists coming to Ireland this year than last with a 6 per cent increase.

He said a further change could end up overheating the economy.

He added that VAT at the end of May was €392 million ahead of where it was a year ago which showed that consumption was being maintained even with the increase in the VAT rate.