Fine Gael’s John Paul Phelan contends that both he and Dáil colleague Ann Phelan (Lab) have stood shoulder to shoulder with Kilkenny constituents on the boundary issue, while outgoing Fianna Fáil TD Bobby Aylward, ‘packed his bags and headed for Galway’.
Deputy Phelan was responding to what he called a “last gasp, unprecedented attack” by Deputy Aylward in last week’s Munster Express, in which Deputy Aylward claimed both TDs had ‘failed’ Kilkenny voters regarding the Boundary Review.
“This attack has all the hallmarks of the final sting of a dying wasp,” Deputy Phelan added. “These cheap shots have come from the mouth of an election candidate who chose to pack his bags and head for a Fianna Fáil branch meeting in Galway rather than stand by his constituents at a crunch first public meeting organised by Kilkenny County Council and attended by every over 350 people and virtually every other politician in Kilkenny – bar Bobby Aylward.”
He continued: “I’ve been fighting the fight, meeting people, making representations in the Dáil and have had meetings and robust exchanges with the Taoiseach, Ministers Coffey, Kelly and others on this very serious matter.
“I live among the people who will be directly impacted if this boundary change comes into play (in Ferrybank) and have had them around my kitchen table, listening to their fears. They know who has been fighting the fight with them.”
Said John Paul Phelan: “Deputy Aylward has played a ‘Where’s Bobby’ role on this and countless other issues. And then with a week to go to the election and as a direct result of getting an utter roasting the doorstep, he comes out with mistruths in a vain attempt to win back support.
“The people of south Kilkenny and of this constituency are no fools. They know only too well who has been fighting for them, who has actually been around to represent them. They know who has had the Taoiseach’s ear. They know who has met with the relevant ministers. They know too which politicians have actually taken time to pen their own submissions to the Boundary Commission and which ones haven’t.”
He continued: “To whinge and whine now and have the audacity to suggest that this is a done deal shows a complete lack of understanding of due process and how the Commission works. It is an insult to the 20,100 people who stood with us and made submissions to the Commission.
“I think we now need to leave it to the people of this region to decide who has stood by them, stood up for them, who have been the leaders on this issue and the many more which have impacted this area in the past and will do so into the future.”