Alan Kelly rubbishes claims John Delaney was canvassing with him at the weekend

Mr Delaney was alleged to have been out on the campaign trail with the deputy Labour leader

John Delaney, Alan Kelly, FAI, canvass, Michael Ring, campaigning, Tipperary

FAI CEO John Delaney at the UEFA EURO 2016 Final Tournament Draw in 2015 | Image: INPHO/Gwendoline Le Goff

The Environment Minister has rubbished reports that FAI chief John Delaney was canvassing with him at the weekend.

Alan Kelly says they both attended meetings with soccer clubs, and what someone does in his own personal time is their own business.

When asked was it appropriate that FAI Chief John Delaney was out canvassing with him in Tipperary on Sunday, the Environment Minister was defiant.

“What somebody does in their own private life is their own business,” he said.

“But the idea that John Delaney was going around Tipperary stopping people asking them to vote for me directly simply did not happen.”

Allegations emerged over the weekend that John Delaney had been out on the campaign trail with deputy leader of the Labour Party.

Mr Kelly's constituency rivals - as well as the Sports Minister Michael Ring - have questioned the decision of Mr Delaney to appear at campaign events for the Minister.

But the FAI chief executive and Tipperary native has been defending his appearance.

He told Tipperary Midwest Radio it is important for the people of Tipperary to retain a minister.

However Mr Delaney did not say whether people should also support Tom Hayes of Fine Gael.

Mr Hayes is also from Tipperary, also a minister - junior minister at the Department of Agriculture - and also running to retain his seat.

Nor did Mr Delaney say whether he was effectively representing the FAI.

But the link between a sporting CEO and a minister formerly based in the Department of Sport is likely to raise more eyebrows.

Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Paschal Donohoe said people are entitled to express their own views, he said public figures need to be careful come election time.

“As we move into an election period this space should be left to political figures and those that are involved in sport or in leading major sporting organisations are not in the political arena,” Mr Donohoe said.

However the Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney says Mr Delaney is entitled to canvas for whoever he likes in the general election.