"What has happened is actually wrong" - Michael Healy-Rae on "strict" drink-driving laws

The Kerry TD spoke to the Pat Kenny show

In the weeks leading up to the General Election, the Pat Kenny Show will be right across the country examining every constituency.

Newstalk is visiting every county across the country - getting the best picture on the ground of the election in each of the constituencies.

In the run-up to the election, independents will play a crucial part.

Michael Healy-Rae is perhaps one of the more recognisable characters in Leinster House but things have changed drastically since the last election. Kerry is now a five-seater single constituency which has posed all sorts of difficulties in terms of logistics and spreading support into areas which really wouldn’t be the Healy-Rae heartland.

Mr Healy Rae is, of course, the product of one of Ireland’s most successful political families - his father Jackie Healy-Rae was a titanic figure in South Kerry and held no small amount of sway in the Dáil.

However, he has stated it’s been a very difficult year on a personal level and this is what is driving him on this time around.

What are his plans if he is re-elected?

Mr Healy Rae has only been in the Dáil since 2011 but he's had a few controversial moments.

Most familiar being the Celebrities Go Wild controversy back in 2011 where phones in Leinster House were used to make over 3,000 calls to vote for Michael Healy Rea in that reality show - Healy-Rae denied he was involved in it but paid back the money anyway.

He and his brother infamously created something of a stir back in 2013 when Michael tabled a motion to the then Transport Minister Leo Varadkar calling for drink drive permits to be given out.

This was something that prompted a bit of an outcry and international media attention - Ministers rallied against it saying it would set back road safety progress and put lives in jeopardy.

Given the horrific problems we’re still seeing with drink driving, I questioned whether or not he still believes in it.

Michael Healy-Rae openly opposed same-sex marriage. How does he feel about how that decision played out?

Mr Healy-Rae was one of a very small number of Deputies who voiced his opposition to the Marriage Referendum. Given his stance on same-sex marriage - it’s perhaps not surprising to hear his views on a prospective 8th Amendment Referendum or otherwise in the next Dáil term.

That’s something he’s unapologetic about and he feels a lot of other TDs are simply voicing support to curry favour with the media.

How are the people of Kerry responding to him?

Kerry has gone from two constituencies to one big five-seater for this Election which draws some serious battle lines.

Martin Ferris, who we spoke to just before Christmas; Minister Jimmy Deenihan and Fianna Fáil’s Councillor John Brassil  are expected to do well. On the other hand, it is expected that Healy-Rae will top the poll, perhaps very convincingly. He’s 50-1 on to take a seat according to the oddsmakers at Paddy Power.

Healy-Rae championed issues like rural crime etc, and he won’t rule out at this time any possibility of propping up a Fine Gael led government.

What happens though when you’re so highly fancied that it’s taken as a given that you’ll claim a seat? Michael Healy- Rae and his team have a deep fear of complacency… but they’re experts at winning over voters on the street.


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