Wednesday 16 October 2019

Leo's lost at sea over Trump comparison

Sound-alike: Micheál Martin compared Leo Varadkar to Trump. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
Sound-alike: Micheál Martin compared Leo Varadkar to Trump. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
John Downing

John Downing

Even before the Taoiseach could get those "sinning priests" off the Dáil record, his adversary was comparing him to a "Donald Trump sound-alike" stretching language much too far.

Leo Varadkar had already apologised for the furore last week, which drew widespread condemnation of his remarks from Catholic bishops.

Yesterday the Taoiseach was obliged to publicly shrive himself again to formally correct the Dáil record.

Before taking questions about his department, Mr Varadkar said he had a special statement to make.

"I made some remarks about sinning priests this time last week on Leader's Questions. They caused offence to people I never intended to offend. I wish to apologise to anyone I offended - including the deputy - and I withdraw the remarks," the Taoiseach said in a deadpan voice.

Later, Micheál Martin briefly welcomed the Taoiseach's apology without further comment. Lest we forget, the Taoiseach said the Fianna Fáil leader reminded him of a parish priest, preaching against sin from the altar, and then sinning behind that same altar.

Pre-holiday sweetness and light bursting out all over? Well, not entirely.

Just minutes earlier the Fianna Fáil leader had compared the Taoiseach with US President Trump for his efforts in explaining a controversy about the Irish Navy.

Mr Martin said the Army and Navy had "lost all confidence" in the junior minister responsible for defence matters, Paul Kehoe. The Fianna Fáil leader said that Mr Kehoe had directly contradicted the Irish Navy commander, Commodore Mick Malone, when he said a lack of personnel obliged them to keep two vessels in dock.

Mr Martin said the Taoiseach had later tried to rescue his junior defence minister from the Navy and politically tempestuous seas. "You sounded like President Trump by saying that two opposites meant the same thing," the Fianna Fáil leader said.

Irish Independent

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