Saturday 20 July 2019

Alex White: Dáil homeless spat is good for no one

Minister Alex White
Minister Alex White

Daniel McConnell

Communications Minister Alex White says the "nasty" Dáil spat over a TD's homeless brother was regrettable and should not have occurred.

Mr White (above) stopped short of calling on his Labour Party colleague Eric Byrne to apologise over personal comments made to Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien.

During heated exchanges about homelessness, Mr O'Brien who is a TD for Cork North-Central, told the Dáil that his brother was a homeless heroin addict who could not get accommodation.

Mr Byrne, who represents Dublin South-Central said: "Why doesn't his good family give him a home?" Mr O'Brien responded by saying: "Shut your mouth."

Responding to the row yesterday, Mr White said: "It would be hard to imagine either Jonathan O'Brien or Eric Byrne wouldn't feel it was a regrettable incident and that the exchange was regrettable."

Heated

He said that no one benefited from the heated and personal exchange.

He said: "The personal issue was brought in by Deputy O'Brien, and that was a judgment for him.

"Then Eric Byrne came in and he was told to shut his mouth. Who is achieving anything from this sort of exchange?"

Mr White stopped short of calling on his colleague to apologise. "It is not for me to call for an apology," he said.

However, Sinn Fein's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the remarks made by Mr Byrne were "pure and utter nasty". She said: "I was in the chamber. The remarks made to Jonathan were absolutely nasty. It was pure and utter nastiness. If I were Eric - and I am not sure if he is prepared to do it publicly - I would apologise to Jonathan."

Irish Independent

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