Tanaiste Leo Varadkar says new Government got off to 'rocky start'

Leo Varadkar (Damien Eagers/PA)

Aine McMahon

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has said the new Government got off to a “rocky start” and made some errors that could have been avoided.

The newly formed coalition between Mr Varadkar’s Fine Gael party, Fianna Fail and the Greens has been beset by difficulties since it formed at the end of June.

There were complaints from TDs who did not get Cabinet roles, Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen was sacked following controversy over his 2016 drink-driving arrest, while Green Party leader Eamon Ryan appeared to fall asleep ahead of a Dail vote on legislation relating to lower-paid jobs.

This week, the Government was forced into a U-turn over people on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment being able to travel abroad without having their payments halted.

Mr Varadkar alluded to these difficulties in a video message posted on Twitter.

“I know the Government has got off to a pretty rocky start. A lot of unforced errors that could have been avoided. But that shouldn’t obscure some of the really good things that the Government actually got done in the last couple of weeks,” he said.

Mr Varadkar pointed to the five billion euro July Jobs Stimulus Plan and the plan to reopen schools at the end of August.

The Dail rose on Thursday night for a six-week recess after it sat late to pass through important legislation to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said he will be taking two weeks off to explore the Wild Atlantic Way on the west coast of Ireland but that politicians will continue to work throughout the recess.

“That does not mean we are on holidays for six weeks. TDs will still be working in their constituencies, ministers still working in their departments, indeed we will have a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.”