Sunday 21 July 2019

Taoiseach formally apologises and withdraws 'sinning priests' comments – Dáil told

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
John Downing

John Downing

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has formally withdrawn controversial comments comparing the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, to “a sinning priest.”

Mr Varadkar caused a furore last week – drawing widespread condemnation of his remarks from laity and senior Catholic clergy – and the following day he withdrew his remarks.

But today the Taoiseach was obliged to apologise a second time in order to formally correct the records of the Dáil.

Before answering TDs’ questions about the Department of Taoiseach, Mr Varadkar said he had a special statement to make:

“I made some remarks about sinning priests this time last week on Leaders’ 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 told the Dáil.

The Dáil deputy chairman, Pat The Cope Gallagher, then directed that proceedings move on to next business without further discussion in accordance with parliamentary rules.

Later in discussions, Micheál Martin, briefly welcomed the Taoiseach’s apology without further comment.

Mr Varadkar’s comments led to condemnation by several Catholic bishops. During a series of ill-tempered exchanges with several Opposition leaders he made the comments directly to Mr Martin.

The Taoiseach said the Fianna Fáil leader reminded him of a parish priest preaching against sin from the altar – and then going behind that altar to engage in sin.

Online Editors

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