Saturday 19 October 2019

‘Pathetic’, ‘total coward’, and ‘rare talent’ – Dáil descends into name-calling as TDs focus on elections

Mick Barry TD
Mick Barry TD
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

ELECTION fever gripped Leinster House as ministers and TDs spent the afternoon trading insults across the Dáil chamber.

What started out as a standard debate on housing saw one Minister refer to a left-wing TD as a “total coward”, while Opposition TDs called for voters to “evict” Fine Gael this Friday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Michelle Devane/PA Wire
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Michelle Devane/PA Wire

The harshest exchanges were between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Solidarity TD Mick Barry.

The Cork represent said Fine Gael are a party of landlords which “is not going to act against its own class interests”.

“This Friday voters will have a chance to deliver a verdict on the Government's performance on housing. Fine Gael deserve a hammering at the ballot box,” he said.

In response, Mr Varadkar said he is “quite confident” that the parties with which Mr Barry is associated will get between 1pc and 3pc.

“The Deputy talks a lot about the 1pc, but he is the 1pc when it comes to public opinion in this State,” he said.

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Undeterred, Mr Barry responded by saying Fine Gael has given the country “some rare talent down through the years: John Bruton, who put VAT on children's shoes; Richie ‘ruin’, the minister for hardship; and Phil Hogan, who threatened the entire population with having their water supply reduced to a trickle if they did not obey his diktat and pay the water charges.

“However, the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, arguably tops them all.  Again and again he defends the landlords. Again and again he defends the markets. Again and again he defends the indefensible.”

Amid heckling from the Government benches, he added: “Listening to the Fine Gael benches makes me think the Dáil is like a swimming pool; all the noise is coming from the shallow end.”

Mr Varadkar admitted there is a “serious housing shortage” but said it was “very disappointing” that all the Deputy could contribute was “personalised attacks, not only on the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, but also on two former Members of this House, one who is not here and one who passed away not that long ago. 

“That is just a cheap shot.  It is beneath contempt,” the Taoiseach said.

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan shouted: “He is a total coward.” And Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty pipped in: “If there is any sign of losing an argument it is playing the man and not the ball.  The Deputy is pathetic.”

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