Saturday 25 November 2017

'Shattered' Barry pleads for line to be drawn under Dail lapgate controversy

Tom Barry
Tom Barry
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A FINE Gael TD who pulled a female colleague on to his lap during a Dail abortion debate has rejected as "absolute lies" suggestions he had engaged in a heavy drinking session earlier in a Dublin pub.

Tom Barry said he was "shattered" by the storm of controversy his actions in the Dail chamber early last Thursday morning had generated for Aine Collins FG (TD), his family, his colleagues and party.

Mr Barry declined to comment further, saying he did not want to detract from his apology to his colleague.

"I want to draw a line under it as best I can. I am deeply sorry for my actions and I have apologised to everyone involved. The party has taken action and I can only repeat that what I did was stupid, naive and totally inappropriate," he added.

However, Mr Barry specifically denied claims that he had been drinking spirits in a Dublin city centre pub before the incident at 2.40am.

"(They are) absolute lies. I was not (drinking spirits). I had two pints with relatives after a meal earlier in the evening. I (later) went into the Dail bar but I wasn't drinking excessively. There was nothing premeditated ... it was just a stupid and disrespectful," he said.

More details of the hours before the controversy have since emerged.

Mr Barry attended the Dail before meeting up with relatives on Wednesday evening to go for a meal.

Later the group went to The Gingerman Pub on Fenian Street where Mr Barry had two pints and then left to return to the Dail.

During the voting on the abortion legislation, which continued until almost 5am, Mr Barry joined a number of other TDs for breaks in the Dail bar several of which involved drinking coffee.

It is unclear how much he drank there but he has insisted it was not excessive.

The incident where he pulled Ms Collins on to his lap occurred at 2.40am (Thursday) and was captured by Dail TV cameras. Within an hour, the incident had gone viral on the internet.

Fine Gael's general secretary Tom Curran issued a forceful condemnation of the incident and FG has confirmed that Mr Barry was severely reprimanded.

Mr Barry spent the past few days with his wife and children on a short Irish holiday.

Irish Independent

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