President's lack of judgment 'appalling'
President Michael D Higgins has been accused of an "appalling lack of judgment" as the row over his remarks about the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro intensified.
While Áras an Uachtaráin rejected any suggestion that Mr Higgins sought to play down the Castro regime's human rights abuses, Fine Gael's Ciarán Cannon delivered the stinging criticism, saying he wanted dissociate himself from the President's comments.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also weighed in, arguing the President's remarks "lacked balance".
Mr Higgins's spokesman insisted that the President did address human rights concerns in his remarks where he described Castro as "a giant among world leaders".
"Any suggestion that the President neglected human rights concerns is both unsustainable and unwarranted.
"The President has discussed human rights concerns with representatives of the government of Cuba on every occasion he has had meetings, in Cuba, Ireland and elsewhere," the spokesman said.