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'Helen McEntee is an exceptional diplomat' - Donald Tusk weighs in on Micheal Martin's Brexit jibe

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Helen McEntee was angered by Micheal Martin's comments on her role in Brexit negotiations.

Helen McEntee was angered by Micheal Martin's comments on her role in Brexit negotiations.

Helen McEntee was angered by Micheal Martin's comments on her role in Brexit negotiations.

Former European Council President Donald Tusk has weighed into the general election row over EU Minister Helen McEntee’s role in Brexit negotiations.

Mr Tusk said Ms McEntee worked ‘diligently’ on Brexit and European affairs on behalf of Ireland.

“She is an exceptional diplomat and I look forward to working with her in the future,” he added.

The intervention came after Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said Fine Gael “overplayed” their role in Brexit negotiations and specifically took issue with Ms McEntee’s role.

Speaking on Independent.ie's Floating Voter podcast, he said: “Take Helen McEntee for a second, Helen McEntee had no experience going into the job.

“She was mental health first. I had dealings with Helen when she was in mental health,” he added.

Mr Martin went on to say the minister did an “okay” job during Brexit but was not “directly involved in the negotiations”.

Ms McEntee responded by asking how Mr Martin would know how much involvement she had during Brexit talks.

“He’s had zero involvement in the process nor has he travelled the length & breadth of the EU with me,” she wrote on Twitter.

“The last thing he & his party negotiated with the EU was Ireland's IMF/bailout after they wrecked the economy,” she added.

Health Minister Simon Harris also weighed in saying Mr Martin’s “mask slips” and branding his comments as “ignorant and arrogant”.

“Helen plays a key role in protecting Ireland’s interests from Brexit. She is highly regarded across the EU,” he added.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said Ms McEntee and Tánaiste Simon Coveney are the only two people guaranteed to retain their portfolios should Fine Gael be returned to government.

During the podcast interview, Mr Martin praised his own Brexit spokesperson Lisa Chambers. “I think everyone accepts Lisa Chambers has been a very effective Brexit spokesperson and she’s done well,” he said.

“She engaged with all the ministers and officials and with our own diplomatic team, as I have on Brexit,” he added.

Mr Martin said the EU should have facilitated Theresa May more in an effort to avoid a situation where Boris Johnson was able to oust her.

He also criticised the Irish government’s “lack of domestic preparation”.

Online Editors