TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has been pictured eating with friends in the Phoenix Park despite a senior official in his department discouraging people from having picnics just last week.
Last week Department of the Taoiseach Assistance Secretary General Liz Canavan urged people not to have picnics at nature trails and beaches.
She said: "If you're visiting a public amenity try not to stay too long at the site or have picnics. Please do your exercise and then go home."
In photographs circulating on social media Mr Varadkar and his partner are shown socialising with two other friends.
The Taoiseach and his friends are pictured with their shirts off enjoying a picnic during the warm weather on Sunday afternoon.
Today Ms Canavan this week declined to comment specifically on the images of Mr Varadkar in the Phoenix Park saying she has not seen them.
Asked if it is ok to have picnics when people meet up outdoors she said:
"We’re not madly encouraging people to be... taking up a lot of space and time in amenities where they’re cramped.
"That’s the main thing. People should try to keep throughout.
"Again this is guidance. We’re asking people to use their head".
Mr Varadkar and his partner Dr Matthew Barrett have been living in the Steward's Lodge on the Farmleigh Estate in the Phoenix Park during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Taoiseach is paying a nightly fee to stay in the residence.
Photographs emerged of Mr Varadkar and Mr Barrett meeting friends at the Wellington Monument.
Mr Varadkar's spokesman last night said: “The Taoiseach was in the Phoenix Park with his partner Matt and two friends on Sunday Afternoon, in line with public health guidance.”
“He was within 5km of the Steward's Lodge, where he is staying during the Covid Emergency,” he added.
Groups of four people are permitted to meet outside under phase one of the Government’s roadmap for reopening the country.