..... in his words
“I fought tooth and nail to retain the nine per cent rate of VAT and despite my prolonged, meticulous and robust negotiating on behalf of the tourism industry, the decision was reached by government to revert to the standard rate, which had been due to happen in 2014 but was extended each year since then due to intensive lobbying by me as a TD and Minister.
“When it became apparent to me that I would not succeed in extending the nine per cent rate for a fifth year beyond the original plan, I immediately set about ensuring the best possible alternative outcome for the tourism industry.
“The result was an unprecedented 25 per cent increase of almost €40 million in the tourism budget for 2019 which will heavily focus on the growth of tourism in rural areas
“Michael Healy Rae’s criticism is utterly shameless and a cheap political stunt. In reality, back on May 26 2011, when Fine Gael in Government introduced the temporary reduced rate of nine per cent VAT, Michael Healy Rae didn’t even vote for it, despite it being a huge lifeline to the tourism industry in Kerry when it was on its knees.
“He’s now being a complete hypocrite and didn’t even have the interest to show up in the Dáil for the Budget speech, the most important day of the year for any TD. Where was he?
“Other Independent TD’s worked to become Cabinet Ministers but Michael and his brother betrayed the people of Kerry by taking the easy way out, so that they could continue to be populists, criticising every government decision that they might actually have influenced.
“Having the Healy-Rae brothers in the Dáil hasn’t brought anything positive into Kerry. All talk, no action and no courage, they are a waste of two valuable seats.”