Saturday 21 October 2017

Enda Kenny condemns verbal attack on President as 'deplorable'

Niall O'Connor Political Correspondent

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has condemned the treatment of President Michael D Higgins outside of a Dublin school this week as "deplorable".

Mr Kenny says he has encountered a small number of people over the last few months who not only expressed anger towards politicians, but also "hatred".

He said the treatment of the President in Finglas - whereby his car was attacked and he was labelled a "midget parasite" - is nothing short of a disgrace.

"I think that's disgraceful what happened. Michael D Higgins, as Uachtarain na hEireann, got over a million votes,  is carrying out his duties absolutely responsibly and is treated with absolute respect all across the world," Mr Kenny said today.

"I deplore completely what happened on Sunday," he added.

In a wide ranging interview with broadcaster Pat Kenny on 'Newstalk', the Taoiseach also expressed outrage at the attack on the office of his party colleague and fellow Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin last night. 

He said that while he has not spoken to Ms Mulherin about the incident, he is aware that she is "upset" about it.

"Obviously as a public representative I am appalled really that anybody would attack an office like this," Mr Kenny said.

The Taoiseach said he cannot say whether the incident has any connection with her phone calls to a friend in Kenya, which attracted controversy.

Read more: Varadkar: Verbal attack on President is attack on constitution

"Irrespective of a person's political views, we are all public representatives across an entire spectrum. While protest is perfectly legitimate, there is no case for fire bombing the office of any deputy irrespective of what party or any which they represent," he added.

Mr Kenny was also drawn on the recent decision of his Health Minister Leo Varadkar to reveal that he is gay.

He told the station that Mr Varadkar called him the night before but that he himself "had a sense" of the situation already.

Other issues covered during this morning's interview included the Central Bank's controversial guidelines on mortgage deposits, the future of the Coalition and upcoming tax cuts.

Mr Kenny defended the new guidelines which he says "strike the right balance".

On the wider economy, the Taoiseach said people have been "through hell" because of the economic collapse.

"That's why we are trying to rectify it," he said, adding that 2015 will be a "great year".

Mr Kenny insisted that he is in favour of a Fine Gael/Labour coalition after the next election despite opinion polls suggesting that the figures won't stack up.

And the Taoiseach reiterated his pledge to take out a further 90,000 or so people from paying Universal Social Charge (USC) in the next budget.

The senior Fine Gael politician, who is the longest serving current member of the Dail, added:

"We want to have the opportunity for our young people to come home."

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