European Affairs Minister, Thomas Byrne, has claimed rhetoric such as that from Fine Gael Councillor Alan Tobin at today’s Meath County Council meeting, at which he called on housing officials in Dublin to stop sending Dubs to live in Meath, won’t help the housing situation.

He told Meath Live, ‘Rhetoric like that is not going to get a single house built, this government has committed to building houses and that is exactly what we will do.

‘People should remember we all live in the one country.’

Byrne also revealed that he feels Tanaiste Leo Varadkar is being unduly criticised over his trip to a music festival in London.

He said, ‘I’m not here to stand up for Leo but people have to understand tourism is a two-way street and we benefit hugely from it so if we welcome tourists in here why should we have a go at someone for going to the UK, something which it is important to note is completely within the law.’

The Minister also accepts that the Merriongate affair over the appointment of Katherine Zappone as a special envoy was poorly handled.

He admitted, ‘ Government appointments should be made independently, ideally where a selection process is out in place to forward a shortlist to the Minister who ultimately makes the decision,

‘During that process, it would be best practice if there was no engagement with prospective candidates.

‘Certainly, there are lessons to be learned from what happened.’