Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring has launched a fierce attack on former Kerry footballer Pat Spillane after his appearance on RTE's Late Late Show.
Ring said the Sunday Game specialist "clearly has a great regard for himself" after he appeared on primetime television criticizing the minister and his team for their efforts to rejuvenate rural Ireland.
Ring also said he was "very disappointed" that RTE had decided not to invite him to Ryan Tubridy's show to comment on the eight-time winner of All Ireland.
The minister also released details of text messages he received recently from Spillane, in which he praises Mr. Ring and the government's policy on rural issues.
Mr. Ring also decided to publish details of the fees and expenses Mr. Spillane received while working in government departments on rural issues.
In the Late Late Show, Spillane was highly critical of Ring's decision not to renew his contract as Irish Rural Ambassador. He also said that the decision to create a senior ministry for rural Ireland was first proposed in a report he oversaw.
"I was the man who delivered the report to the minister and, indirectly, thanks to me, Minister Ring got a ministry and I was the first to be deceived," Spillane said.
He said the minister was receiving "bad advice" from his officials and described a recent scheme to deal with rural isolation as "swallowing and cheating." He also attacked proposals for rural roadshows aimed at informing communities about government actions.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Ring said he wrote to Spillane last Monday to inform him that he would not renew his contract.
"His contract lasted until the end of December 2018 and it was not clear but I wrote to him on Monday this week and said his contract would not be renewed because he still seemed to be in doubt about that." he said.
"Four days later he appeared on The Late Late Show and it's like he's a different person.He could not have been more negative or more critical.How could he have changed his views so radically in the space of a few days? "
In a text message sent to Mr. Ring on February 4, 2018, Mr. Spillane said: "Minister, had several meetings in Offaly this afternoon, enormous positivity towards you in particular and indeed rural department."
In a text sent on December 18, 2018, when his contract had expired, the former soccer player asked to be renamed as a rural ambassador.
"I would love to be involved because I firmly believe that thanks to your work as a minister, together with your rural department, things are really starting to happen in rural Ireland," Spillane said.
The minister said that the RTE GAA analyst received 30,000 euros in fees for the two years he worked as Ambassador of Rural Ireland and received an additional € 14,381 for expenses.
He also received 27,000 euros in fees and expenses for his work with the Commission for the Economic Development of Rural Areas.
Ring said it plans to contact RTE Director-General Dee Forbes about the decision to allow Spillane to attack him and his staff on the country's most-watched television program without giving him an opportunity to respond.
He also said he would like the RTE to disclose details of Spillane's contract with the station. A RTE spokesman said they would not comment.