Michael Ring has promised an influx of government funding to his own constituency following his appointment as Minister for Community and Rural Affairs, telling his supporters: "I love money and I love spending it."
The Mayo TD made the pledge at a homecoming celebration in Westport on Thursday night, where he was greeted by a crowd of up to 200 people.
Arriving at the Castlecourt Hotel in his state car and making an entrance to the sound of Tina Turner’s Simply The Best, Mr Ring outlined some of his plans for the new department.
“I will do the best that I can as a Minister for this county, but particularly for this country,” he said.
"I will continue to bring all the money that I have brought in to Ballina, and to Ballycastle, and to Killala, and every part of this county that I have an opportunity.
“I have the Rural Renovation Scheme, I have the CLÁR programme, Town and Village [Renewal Scheme], LEADER, and by God, there was a few new schemes I learned about today,” he said.
“The first thing I asked was ‘What’s the budget?’ They told me what it was, I said I love money and I love spending it. I’ll tell you one thing, when I get money, I will spend it.”
The newly appointed Minister also revealed that his first decision in his new role was to change the name of the department to “Rural and Community Affairs” because he “wants to put rural first”.
“I’m going to try as Minister in that department to try and make other ministers accountable to make sure that every policy that goes through Cabinet now will be rural-proofed and that we get our fair share of cake,” he said.
Mr Ring said that he was determined to address the “imbalance” between the east coast and the rest of the country.
He also criticised a decision by the Constituency Commission to include a section of Co Mayo in the constituency of Galway West, which took effect at the last general election.
The homecoming event was attended by Fine Gael senators Michelle Mulherin and Paddy Burke, as well as a number of local councillors.