MEP and First Vice President of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness, rebuffed accusations of a clash between herself and fellow Fine Gael MEP candidate, Maria Walsh, in a television debate last night, Tuesday, May 7.

Speaking on TV3‘s The Tonight Show with Ivan Yates and Matt Cooper, McGuinness faced questions on a reported flare up with the aspiring MEP – and former Rose of Tralee – over canvassing boundaries in the Midlands-North West constituency.

McGuinness was joined on the panel by other parliamentary candidates – including: independent MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan; Fianna Fáil’s Brendan Smith; Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy; and independent candidate and former senator Fidelma Healy Eames.

A number of agricultural issues were discussed including: biodiversity; climate change; direct payments; and the potential of eco schemes under the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2020.

As Flanagan and McGuinness proceeded to lock horns on how these issues will impact on farmers in the constituency – that both are seeking to represent – Flanagan added fuel to the fire by claiming that there is a canvassing turf war ongoing between McGuinness and Walsh over the region.

Turning to Flanagan during a back-and-forth on eco schemes, McGuinness said: “When you say ‘she’, can I just say that I represent the Midlands-North West constituency.

“Well,” said Flanagan, “Maria Walsh today on Shannonside Radio said ‘one part is represented by her and the other part is represented by you’. It’s nice to hear there is a difference now,” he added.

McGuinness responded: “Well, let me tell you because I’m here. Maria Walsh isn’t here and I am.”

Then presenter Ivan Yates –  a former Fine Gael TD who served as minister for agriculture, food and forestry from 1994 to 1997 – interjected, jesting: “She’s not going to go very far if you have your way is she?”

McGuinness swiftly faced Yates to respond to his remarks.

“Ivan, I have to say, you couldn’t go any lower. And I’m really not impressed,” she said.

Yates defended himself saying: “No, no, it is true. She has complained to headquarters hasn’t she?”

McGuinness replied:

Oh look, I’m sure she has. But you don’t need to throw a low ball at me. I’m a bit above that – and so are you.

The Louth native then went on to return the conversation to her “fascination” with the discussion on farming and biodiversity.