A senior Fianna Fáil TD was forced into an embarrassing climb-down yesterday after a "bizarre" solo run in which he attacked the Taoiseach and the Government over Brexit.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was forced to issue a tweet clarifying his party's position on Brexit after one of his senior frontbenchers, Timmy Dooley, attacked Leo Varadkar and accused the Government of a "lack of experience and arrogance".
In a tweet which he subsequently deleted, Mr Dooley wrote: "The stand off with our nearest neighbour is as a direct result of Taoiseach Varadkars (sic) failure to engage in basic diplomacy over the past 2 years. The Governments (sic) lack of experience and arrogance will hurt Ireland in the coming months."
The tweet referenced yesterday's Irish Independent report on the failure of Mr Varadkar to speak with Boris Johnson nearly a week after he became UK prime minister. The pair have since spoken by phone.
Senior Fianna Fáil sources immediately distanced themselves from Mr Dooley's comments, which were re-tweeted by Fianna Fáil frontbencher Thomas Byrne.
A senior party figure described Mr Dooley's tweet as "bizarre" and said the Clare TD was on a "solo run". Mr Dooley is understood to have spoken to Mr Martin about the tweet but was not instructed to delete it.
However, he was not alone in criticising the Taoiseach yesterday. Another Fianna Fáil TD, Margaret Murphy-O'Mahony, wrote on Twitter that the delay in Mr Varadkar and Mr Johnson talking "says so much about our Taoiseach #badlyhandling". She also subsequently deleted this tweet.
Mr Martin had to issue a tweet clarifying Fianna Fáil's position.
"To be absolutely clear; the refusal by PM Boris Johnson to engage with European leaders and our Taoiseach without pre conditions on the issue of Brexit is unacceptable and is not within the realms of normal diplomatic or political behaviour," he wrote.
Fianna Fáil's Brexit spokesperson, Lisa Chambers, also said: "The only person responsible for Boris Johnson not returning a phone call to our Taoiseach is Boris Johnson."
Mr Dooley's initial remarks were criticised by politicians in Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Labour. A number of UK-based journalists seized on the remarks as evidence of the Irish solidarity on the Brexit backstop loosening. The Government press office is understood to have fielded calls on the tweet yesterday.
'Timmy' was also trending at number one on Twitter at one stage. Mr Dooley declined to comment.