Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has apologised for remarks comparing Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to a ‘sinning priest.’ The comments followed a series of ill-tempered Dáil exchanges with the Fianna Fáil leader.
On his way into a meeting between the government and ironically, representatives of almost 30 different churches and faith communities, including the Catholic Church, the Taoiseach told reporters. “Yeah look I said something in the heat of a debate in the Dáil yesterday.
“It was a rather bitter and personal debate on both sides but in doing so I offended a lot of people who I never intended to offend I am sorry for that, I do apologise and I am going to withdraw the remarks.”
Mr Varadkar compared Mr Martin to a priest “who preaches from the altar, telling us to avoid sin while secretly going behind the altar and engaging in any amount of sin himself”.
He made the comments in response to Dáil questions from Mr Martin who repeatedly asked the Taoiseach how overspending on projects, such as the national children’s hospital and rural broadband, would affect other projects.
Mr Martin said the National Development Plan had been launched to great political fanfare amid promises of staying in budget and on time. But it was now clear that the cost of the children’s hospital had doubled to €2bn, while rural broadband was close to €3bn.
Mr Martin went on to accuse the Taoiseach of being “petty, silly and idiotic” for suggesting Fianna Fáil was against projects when it raised questions about costs.
The Taoiseach hit back, saying he was “bemused” to find Mr Martin accusing him of being personal, partisan and engaging in name-calling.
“He kind of reminds me of one of those parish priests, who preaches from the altar, telling us to avoid sin, while secretly going behind the altar and engaging in any amount of sin himself,” Mr Varadkar said.
Following the exchange, Mr Martin tweeted that Mr Varadkar’s comments “reflect more on the Taoiseach than anyone else”.