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Ross (right) accepted Collins' (left) apology.
Michael Collins

Independent Cork TD apologises for calling Shane Ross a 'scumbag'

Michael Collins withdrew his comment, saying it was “over the top”.

AN INDEPENDENT TD who was re-elected following Saturday’s general election has apologised to Shane Ross for calling him a ‘scumbag’ while giving a late-night speech.

Michael Collins, elected in Cork South West, said he “probably was tired” when he made the comments. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Collins said he normally “plays the ball and not the man or the woman” in politics.

In a video recording, Collins can be heard describing Ross as a “scumbag” and that he was “on the scrap heap of Irish politics”. 

Today, he said: “I probably was tired… I met people at the door who were absolutely furious and there’s no other word in Cork South West with the way the previous government had carried on with so many terrible decisions that were made against the people of rural Ireland.

I give an apology for that word but I certainly don’t give an apology for what has happened to rural Ireland and for me to stand up on behalf of those people.

Collins withdrew his comment referring to Ross as a “scumbag”, saying it was “over the top”. 

Speaking to the same programme, Shane Ross said he accepted Collins’ apology.

The former Dublin Rathdown TD lost his seat at the weekend, but said that people often use that kind of language in the “heat of battle”. 

He defended measures he brought in as Minister for Transport, such as the tougher measures on drunk driving.

Ross added that it may take quite a while for a new government to be formed, and told Collins to “get in there and talk and push for what he believes in” on forming a new government. 

In a statement issued this evening, Minister of State John Halligan said he was “absolutely disgusted” at the language used by Collins in describing Ross. 

Halligan, who did not contest the general election, defended his Independent Alliance colleague: 

At a time when so many political figures and decision-makers are inundated with online abuse, this man – who says he ‘always tries to play the ball and not the man’ – has gone out of his way to further fan the flames of hatred and kick a fellow politician while he is down.

“Collins is beneath contempt,” Halligan added. 

- With reporting from Adam Daly 

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