Minister of State Patrick O'Donovan raised the hackles of Minister Shane Ross by preempting the Adare road announcement on social media
IT may have raised the hackles of Transport Minister Shane Ross but Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan has dismissed the Twitter storm over last week’s Adare bypass announcement as “a story about nothing.”
“The most positive thing here is that the decision has been made, and has been made after intensive lobbying by myself both in the Department of Transport and in the Department of Finance and Public Expenditure,” Minister O’Donovan said this Wednesday.
Media reports at the weekend suggested that Minister Ross had considered delaying Cabinet approval of the €450m project, to bypass Adare and build a new road linking Foynes to the N21 motorway, because Minister O’Donovan had jumped the gun and announced it before the Cabinet even met.
He had flagged the issue on Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday morning before the Cabinet had approved the latest stage in the massive project.
At last Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, according to a report in the Sunday Independent, Minister Ross revealed how Minister O'Donovan had already announced the decision, and then left the chamber to consider delaying the proposal.
"Ross came back into the room and said he could have delayed it but said he wouldn't and suggested there were other ways of dealing with Patrick," an unnamed Fine Gael minister is quoted as saying.
Minister Ross told the Sunday Independent: "It should be a sacred, unbreakable principle of Government that no Cabinet decision is undermined or pre-empted by premature public comment by interested politicians. There is always a danger that the Cabinet will decide to amend or postpone important projects for good reason."
"Most of the ministers in the room agreed O'Donovan was completely out of order and should have waited for the decision to be officially signed off," a minister has also said.
Minister O’Donovan, asked to comment this week, said: “I am not really interested in the side-show story here. My interest is the people of Co Limerick.”
Ultimately, he pointed out, the Department of Public Expenditure has the final say.
It is not Minister O’Donovan’s first brush with Minister Ross. In 2016, Minister Ross knocked back a proposal by his then junior minister, Patrick O’Donovan, that the state would not fund sporting organisations that did not meet the 30% gender quota. In 2017, Minister O’Donovan claimed his senior minister had not spelt out his (O’Donovan’s) delegated functions and job description.