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'Two faced' - Fine Gael and Sinn Féin row over ministers delivering food to vulnerable and poor

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Mr Varadkar and Mary Lou McDonald clashed in the Dail (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Varadkar and Mary Lou McDonald clashed in the Dail (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Mr Varadkar and Mary Lou McDonald clashed in the Dail (Niall Carson/PA)

Fine Gael and Sinn Féin have become embroiled in a row over their ministers delivering food packages to vulnerable and old people.

In the Dáil, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar criticised Sinn Féin for delivering food parcels and posting pictures on Facebook during a debate on the Covid-19 unemployment payment.

Mr Varadkar said he would be “ashamed” to “boast” about giving out food parcels. He said the Government provides funding for food banks.

“What we do not do is post on Facebook pictures of our Ministers visiting them and handing out food to the poor,” he added.

However, in response, Sinn Féin highlighted pictures on Twitter showing Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy delivering meals on wheels to his constituents yesterday afternoon. Mr Murphy retweeted the images to his own Twitter account.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said the tweet of Mr Murphy showed how “vacuous” the Taoiseach’s attack was.

“There are many people from across the island involved in helping out the elderly and vulnerable at this time. Those people should be commended. Instead, the Taoiseach chose to attack Sinn Féin for the very action his own Minister is engaged in,” Mr Cullinane added.

The Taoiseach’s spokesperson said if Sinn Féin “really cared about the less well off and unemployed” they would match the unemployment welfare rates in the North to those paid in the South.

In the Dáil, the Taoiseach and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald clashed over the €350 per week Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment.

Mr Varadkar responded to Ms McDonald by highlighting that payments for the unemployed are far lower in the North where Sinn Féin is in power.

He suggested the rates were so low in the North that Sinn Féin ministers were forced to deliver food parcels.

“Sinn Féin Ministers on their Facebook site promote the fact that they hand out food parcels to the poor, reminiscent to me of Donald Trump handing out toilet roll after the hurricane hit the islands in the Caribbean,” he said

“I would be ashamed to do something like that. Do not blame it on the Tories and do not blame it on London. If it was not for their money, it would be even worse,” he added.

Ms McDonald said she was “very proud” of the community work her members do across the country.

“It is not just in the North that people are running meals on wheels and bringing packages and parcels to help people who are struggling,” she said.

Online Editors