Tuesday 16 October 2018

'Upsetting the egos of politicians has not been on my mind for the last few days' – Varadkar

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited Wexford Council building where the Emergency Group meets on the weather situation in Co. Wexford. Pictured with the Taoiseach is Minister Paul Kehoe TD and Frank Byrne Wexford Co. Council mapping section. Picture: Patrick Browne
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited Wexford Council building where the Emergency Group meets on the weather situation in Co. Wexford. Pictured with the Taoiseach is Minister Paul Kehoe TD and Frank Byrne Wexford Co. Council mapping section. Picture: Patrick Browne
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has reacted angrily to complaints that he didn’t invite Opposition TDs to accompany him to be briefed on Storm Emma in Wexford, saying: “Upsetting the egos of politicians has not been on my mind for the last few days.”

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin raised the issue in the Dáil today while calling for the Government to give employers better guidelines for dealing with Status Red weather events.

He praised the “heroic effort” of people affected by the snowstorm, saying the impact on the east coast was “extraordinary”.

“Communities have pulled and pushed and shoved together. Stories of the snow will not be forgotten for decades. It shows the best of us in the worst of circumstances,” he said.

In response Mr Varadkar noted that he was in the deputy’s Wexford constituency to meet with emergency crews.

The statement prompted Mr Howlin to complain that he wasn’t invited. He said in past incidents local representatives were invited to such events as “a matter of courtesy”.

Mr Varadkar said: “I probably didn’t because it was the last thing on my mind. Upsetting the egos of politicians has not been on my mind for the last few days… I do genuinely apologise to the deputy if his dignity was offended if he wasn’t invited to an ambulance base a few hundred metres from his constituency office.”

On the issue of advice to employers, Mr Varadkar said a report is being compiled but a “one size fits all” approach won’t work.

He said if hotels had been ordered to send staff home it would have resulted in thousands of tourists being stranded on the streets during the blizzard.

“It isn’t as simple as offering a blanket instruction to employers. A blanket ban saying all hotels should close, imagine the effect that would have had,” he said.

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