Friday 20 April 2018

'Lapgate' row TD offered to quit Fine Gael and Dail

Tom Barry
Tom Barry
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE Fine Gael politician who pulled a female colleague on to his lap during a Dail debate on abortion offered to resign both as a TD and from the party.

Tom Barry was "severely reprimanded" by his party after he pulled Aine Collins, a married mother of three, on to his lap at 2.40am in the Dail chamber on July 11 during the abortion debate.

Mr Barry confirmed he offered to quit both FG and the Dail after apologising to Ms Collins.

Ms Collins, a TD for Cork North West, has since accepted Mr Barry's apology.

Mr Barry yesterday confirmed he was advised by the party hierarchy not to make any decisions in haste after saying he would quit to save the party and the Dail from further embarrassment.

The party's Chief Whip Paul Kehoe told the distraught Cork East TD not to make any rushed decisions.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, while furious over the incident, did not regard it as a resignation matter after Mr Barry apologised and was disciplined by the party.

"I have always been direct, that is my style. I don't normally say 'no comment' to people," said Mr Barry.

"On the night it happened and when the enormity of the reaction occurred, I believe in high standards... I didn't just offer to resign from Fine Gael, I offered to step down entirely (as a TD).

"That is the way I felt. But I was told, look, don't make a decision in the middle of something. It is probably good advice."

He added: "I don't particularly need politics. I am not saying that in any (boastful) fashion.

"I just felt so overwhelmed by what had occurred. I couldn't change it.

ABUSE

"I felt the last thing I wanted to do was to bring the Dail into disrepute. In fact, this spread like a wildfire. I didn't realise I had sparked so many issues. It was never meant to cause hurt or to cause offence.

"I got into politics because I felt I could make a difference.

"That I could get things done and achieve the goals I set for myself.

"This is the last thing I ever wanted to be at the centre of."

Mr Barry told the Irish Independent that he remains "very upset" over a campaign of abuse posted against him on social media sites.

"It is absolutely sickening what has been posted and there seems very little than can be done about it," he said.

Mr Barry, who insisted he only drank two pints before last week's debate, added that staging debates into the early hours of the morning was far from ideal after a fire alert at his hotel ruined his sleep the night before.

"It was just a very strange atmosphere. I am not in favour of it (late debates)," he said.

Irish Independent

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