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Saturday 10 December 2016

'Delaney should stay away from campaign trail', says Donohoe

FAI CEO John Delaney (Ed Scannell)
FAI CEO John Delaney (Ed Scannell)

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has insisted that senior individuals in major sporting organisations should remain outside of politics during the election campaign.

Mr Donohoe said the election should be left to "political figures" in a clear illustration of his dissatisfaction with the decision by FAI Chief John Delaney to canvass on behalf of Alan Kelly.

Mr Delaney, who earns a reported annual salary of around €400,000, joined the Labour Party deputy leader on a visit to North Tipperary on Friday.

During an interview with Tipperary Mid West Radio, Mr Delaney urged voters in Tipperary to "remember" the projects delivered for the constituency by Mr Kelly when they vote in the upcoming General Election.

The controversial football boss repeatedly highlighted Mr Kelly's record in a clear indication of his support.

"As (the) election comes and people get near to making decisions, I think it's always important to have a minister, irrespective if what party you represent, in your county because ultimately people deliver," Mr Delaney said.

Mr Delaney suggested that more projects will be delivered for the constituency in the coming weeks.

Mr Donohoe insisted that figures involved in major sporting organisations should not be on the campaign trail. "I think it is very important that as we move into an election period ... that this space should be left to political figures to have that debate with people," he said.

Speaking prior to Mr Donohoe's remarks, Mr Kelly strongly defended Mr Delaney. "He was fulfilling engagements on behalf of the FAI with me in Tipperary last Friday and I don't see anything wrong with that whatsoever," Mr Kelly said.

Appropriate

"If John Delaney feels it appropriate that people in Tipperary vote for me, that's fine by me, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But to say he was going around campaigning ... I don't think it's appropriate to say that."

Earlier Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was "not appropriate" for Mr Delaney to canvass on behalf of Mr Kelly.

The FAI refused to comment last night.

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