The Taoiseach has slapped down his party backbencher Marc MacSharry, who claimed some public servants were taking advantage of Covid to do the "maximum of the minimum," and probably lying on the couch and "watching box-sets."
"I don't agree with Marc's position on this at all," Micheal Martin said at Dublin Castle after a meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council.
"Never did the concept of a strong, independent, objective public service so tellingly as in this crisis," he said.
The civil service had done "extraordinary work," Mr Martin added, singling out the Garda Síochana and the Health Care workers.
In giving such advice as that for the wearing of masks of public transport, "the back-up to that is the Garda Síochána," he said, while healthcare workers had been on the frontline of the pandemic.
"In my own department, public servants have been flat out," Mr Martin declared. The selfless work of so many was "something we can celebrate, if that is not the right word in the context, but something we should acknowledge and recognise."
He pointed out that people had responded to what was an unprecedented, once-in a-hundred-years event, and the public service had been a key part of the "impulse to democracy and a steady society." He added: "We can never let that go."
Mr Martin did not, however, call on Mr MacSharry to withdraw his remarks or to apologise, as called for by members of Opposition parties.