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Hogan demands Martin apologise and withdraw "gerrymandering" allegations

He said he was appalled at accusations he was involved in “gerrymandering” over the boundaries for the local elections.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan
Environment Minister Phil Hogan
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER PHIL Hogan has said he is “appalled” at accusations of gerrymandering made about him over the past few days.

He has now demanded that Martin withdraw the remarks he made on the report by the Independent Committee into the review of Local Electoral Areas.

He accused Martin of attempting to discredit the report now, even though it was published nine months ago.

This is political cronyism at its worst and Deputy Martin should hang his head in shame. It smacks of desperation in advance of the local elections.

Gerrymandering

The allegations of gerrymandering came from Fianna Fáil leader Martin, who accused Hogan of a “good old-fashioned gerrymander” with the boundaries for the local elections this May.

“I am appalled that Deputy Martin would make such an assertion,” Hogan said on RTÉ Radio 1′s This Week programme today.

He said that he thought it was “ironic” that he was accused of gerrymandering “by the leader of the most corrupt party in the history of the state”.

Hogan said he wants Martin to not only withdraw his comments but also apologise to the Independent Committee.

The attack was made by Martin at the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis in Killarney’s INEC this weekend. Hogan had initially dismissed the comments as a cheap political stunt.

Hogan said that it was “cynical” to make the comments just a few weeks before election.

The changes will see the number of public representatives reducing by 700. Hogan said that he gave the boundary commission “plenty of room for manoeuvre”.

‘Desperation politics’

Hogan said he thinks the “desperation politics” of Micheál Martin “sounds like a man going to do badly in the local elections”.

He said that the reduction in local authorities was predicted to achieve savings of €8oom and that “we are half way through that at the moment”.

Hogan said of the staff leaving local authorities, that “we won’t have too many golden handshakes”.

Local accounts

The Environment Minister was also asked about the local accounts of political parties, an issue that was raised by the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO).

He said that he is “not going to challenge volunteers” and that there is “€100 or €200 in branch accounts”.

He said that a request for auditing these local accounts “calls into question freedom of expression for political activity”.

Read: ‘Hogan has some nerve, I don’t take any lectures from him’: Martin hits back in gerrymander row>

Read: Phil Hogan accused of a ‘good old-fashioned gerrymander’>

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