INDEPENDENT TD Luke 'Ming' Flanagan was called an "ignorant buffoon" in the Dail last night for comparing the ban on turf-cutting in some bogs to laws in Nazi Germany.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter called on Mr Flanagan to withdraw the remark, and said he "should examine his conscience" after making the comparison.
In a bitter exchange, Mr Flanagan then called Mr Shatter "a coward" before leaving the Dail chamber.
During questions to the Justice Minister, Mr Shatter defended using garda resources to uphold the ban on turf-cutting in environmentally sensitive areas, prompting Mr Flanagan to say: "They had laws in Nazi Germany too but thank God some people broke them."
Mr Shatter immediately called for the remark to be withdrawn, bur Mr Flanagan refused, and said "we are heading in the direction of Nazi Germany".
"If he is so foolish as to suggest that the difficulties in relation to the bogs replicate matters that happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, I would suggest he seek to educate himself on what occurred," Mr Shatter said.
"If he thinks there is any comparison between the dispute he is continuing to maintain in relation to bogs and the death of six million people in the Holocaust, perhaps the deputy will go and examine his conscience. Deputy, you are an ignorant buffoon," Mr Shatter added.
Mr Flanagan, a TD for Roscommon South-Leitrim, then accused Mr Shatter of throwing comments at him as he tried to leave the chamber.
He said: "I was using an analogy to show that there are times when one has no choice but to break the law. I will not withdraw anything; I stand by what I said."