'The people need to know where the Taoiseach sleeps at night."
It's nearly three decades since a Fianna Fáil minister took a less-than-subtle dig at Bertie Ahern, his relationship status and his living arrangements as he pondered a run for the party leadership - and Taoiseach's office - in the wake of Charles Haughey's resignation.
The people didn't need to know then and they don't need to know now. However, on a rare occasion when living arrangements cross into areas of public policy, the Taoiseach should be able to get his story straight on and not milk it for appearances.
Leo Varadkar didn't breach lockdown guidelines with his picnic in the Phoenix Park last week.
The parallels being drawn with Britain's celebrated blind driver and sightseer, Dominic Cummings, are neither valid nor fair. Varadkar did annoy some of the public who are finding it hard to keep explaining the restrictions to restless kids when some of their friends and families are meeting up. He's a grown-up and an experienced politician, so he's responsible for his actions. He's mature enough to know he would be spotted.
"Unfortunately, there are camera phones anywhere there are people these days but that's the way it is. You have to live your life. And if you're afraid of photographs you'd never go out," he told FM104 radio yesterday.
Yet it is only legitimate he be questioned about his conduct when it draws genuine public scrutiny.
What did come out of the queries about his adherence to the 5km rule is the Taoiseach has been living on the Farmleigh estate in the Phoenix Park during the pandemic.
It makes a lot of sense during the crisis for the leader of the country to base himself in the Steward's Lodge of Farmleigh House, which serves as a guest house for taoisigh when they need it. His office explained: "The Taoiseach has been in Steward's Lodge during the last few weeks as it has secure office and video conferencing facilities, which allows him to work from home."
Members of the Government have had to adjust to working from home. The economy was, kind of, being run from the upstairs spare room of Paschal Donohoe's red-brick terraced house in Phibsborough.
"To look after my own health, and respect the health of all who I work with, I'm now working from my spare bedroom a few days every week, and my department put in place the technology I need to do that securely quite a few weeks ago. So I'm able to do all of that. Which means that all the contact that I now have with the department, in many cases, is now done electronically," the Finance Minister said earlier this month.
The circle of officials to whom he was talking also shrunk during this period. Donohoe is dealing in market-sensitive information, so the technology must be secure.
The same goes for Varadkar. Aside from mischief making, there are a number of countries who would happily eavesdrop on the confidential videocalls of an EU leader with his counterparts across the continent.
The early days of the lockdown would have raised concerns about the logistics of traveling at short notice from his home in west Dublin to Government Buildings.
Farmleigh makes sense.
Yet Varadkar succumbs to that fear of statesmanship.
He is and isn't staying in the guesthouse, depending on the circumstances of the question.
Ten days before his picnic in the park, Varadkar said he was "half in the office, half at home". When asked about the room he is working in, during an interview on Today FM, he replied: "No, no actually I've use of a house on the grounds of Farmleigh." When the hosts said it sounded "very salubrious", Varadkar played the béal bocht: "I'm still in my flat in Carpenterstown, though."
Except he is and he isn't. The flat is his apartment on the Carpenterstown Road in Castleknock. He bought it about a decade and a half ago in the early stages of his political career, disclosing he paid €350,000 in 2004, although Land Registry documents show he took out a mortgage with AIB for €405,000 in 2007.
Regardless, it sure ain't the penthouse of Trump Tower.
At some point during the crisis, he moved out of the "flat" and into the Steward's Lodge. There is ample justification to stay in Farmleigh as he works on behalf of the State in difficult circumstances.
The insecurity about saying it straight out may be a symptom of post-crash populist politics where our leaders feel the need to show they are 'of the people'.
The aforementioned Mr Haughey was a tad too fond of the luxury, to say the least, but he didn't shirk from ensuring the State and its leadership had the facilities necessary to carry out its role.
He faced down criticism of the then lavish refurbishment of Government Buildings in the 1990s for the princely sum in those parsimonious times of IR£17m.
The subversive 'Nighthawks' programme on RTÉ (which wouldn't survive the current broadcast conservatism) even featured a critique from Fr Peter McVerry on the expenditure and how it could be used to address inequality.
Farmleigh was bought and refurbished by the State at a cost of €52m during the Celtic Tiger days, when such spending was a drop in the ocean.
The Steward's Lodge was refurbished with the intention of it becoming the official residence of the sitting Taoiseach.
And 20 years later, the Taoiseach of the day is still uneasy about admitting to stay there. The situation is unlikely to change with a new Taoiseach.
Micheál Martin is also suffering from the desire to let us all know he too is living the same lives as the man in the street.
The Fianna Fáil leader is voluntarily 'cocooning' himself in Dublin. He hasn't been back to Cork or seen his family at his home for two months due to the restrictions.
Fianna Fáil went around the houses to explain why Martin was at his holiday home in Courtmacsherry, in west Cork, when the lockdown began, before he moved to Dublin, where he has an apartment.
He is required to be in Dublin more due to the talks on forming a new government. His own TDs are up and down from their homes each week.
By any definition, Martin is carrying out essential work, so he is well within the guidelines to travel between Dublin and his home in Ballinlough in Cork city, if he wishes.
The caretaker Taoiseach and the Taoiseach-in-waiting have valid grounds to not stay at home but are afraid of facing a bit of criticism.
The martyrdom complex is a more comfortable cloak. It displays an insecurity that is long present in politics of an unwillingness to stand by their purpose. Just get on with it.
And try dancing on the head of a pin less and the public will be less suspicious of your motives.