Varadkar tries to brush aside Lowry photograph controversy
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has sought to brush aside controversy over a photograph of a Fine Gael election candidate with controversial TD Michael Lowry, saying it is "a decision for them".
European election hopeful Seán Kelly posted a photograph of himself and Mr Lowry on social media after he encountered him on the campaign trail in Tipperary.
The photograph was criticised by the Opposition, with Labour Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin claiming that the "chummy" picture raised questions about Mr Lowry's relationship with his former party.
Mr Lowry and his refrigeration company were last year fined a combined €25,000 for tax offences following a court trial. Previously, Mr Lowry was criticised in the 2011 Moriarty Tribunal report, after its finding that as communications minister, he assisted businessman Denis O'Brien in Esat Digifone's bid to secure the State's second mobile phone licence in 1995. Both men have rejected the tribunal's findings.
Mr Varadkar was challenged on whether he was happy for one of his candidates to pose for a photo with Mr Lowry.
He said: "That's really a decision for them - for Seán Kelly as an MEP and for Michael Lowry as a TD."
Mr Varadkar added: "It's a statement of fact, as we all know, that Michael Lowry has been convicted for tax offences.
"At the same time, he's also paid the penalty for that."