Tuesday 20 August 2019

Taoiseach says Martin is like a 'priest telling us to avoid sin while secretly sinning behind the altar'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers/INM
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)
John Downing

John Downing

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has accused the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, of being like a priest preaching against sin from the altar – and then going behind the altar to sin himself.

Mr Varadkar’s comments came after a series of very bad-tempered Dáil exchanges with the leader of the party which is propping up his minority Coalition. Mr Martin directly accused the Taoiseach of being “petty, silly and idiotic.”

The Fianna Fáil leader repeatedly asked the Taoiseach how overspending on flagship projects, like the new national children’s hospital and rural broadband, would affect other big projects.  After several clashes during the morning session, Mr Martin returned to the subject asking about an upgrade for the Dunkettle interchange outside Cork city and hospitals for Cork and Limerick.

Mr Martin said the National Development Plan had been launched to great political fanfare – and accompanied by pledges to do “real-time updates” on costs and timelines to fulfill promises of staying in budget and on time. But it was now clear that the national children’s hospital had doubled to €2bn while rural broadband was close to €3bn.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Some of the costs in the plan were little better than thinking of a number and hoping to be right,” the Fianna Fáil leader said.

Mr Martin went on to accuse the Taoiseach of being “petty, silly and idiotic” for suggesting Fianna Fáil were against projects when they raised real questions about costs.

The Taoiseach hit back, saying he was “bemused” to find Mr Martin accusing him of being personal, partisan and engaging in name-calling.

“He kind of reminds me of one of those parish priests, who preaches from the altar, telling us to avoid sin, while secretly going behind the altar and engaging in any amount of sin himself,” Mr Varadkar said.

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