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TD sorry for Miss Piggy jibe

An Independent TD has apologised to a Dail colleague after he was caught calling her Miss Piggy.

Mick Wallace was heard muttering the offensive remark about Mary Mitchell O'Connor when he believed the microphones in the chamber were off.

In exchanges with two of his independent colleagues - Luke Ming Flanagan and Shane Ross - Mr Wallace referred to the Fine Gael TD, known for her colourful outfits, as Miss Piggy before describing her clothes as garish.

"It's hard to defend the indefensible. I'm very sorry for the offence caused to Mary," Mr Wallace said.

"I'm completely out of order. Ming and Shane Ross had nothing to do with it. It was completely my fault."

Mr Wallace, famed for his pink shirts and long, curly blond hair, said he passed comment about Miss Piggy and a handbag because of the way the character used to hit other Muppets on the popular TV show.

"I don't have a leg to stand on," he said.

Ms Mitchell O'Connor said she was very upset and had tears in her eyes when she first heard, but is now over it.

"It is over as far as I'm concerned," she said.

"As far as I'm concerned this is what happened - there is an old boys' club, surely to God, in Dail Eireann. I think women should be treated with respect, not just me, but women in general.

"I would think that any woman thinking that she might go for politics would be turned off today when they hear this kind of chat and banter."

The former school principal who became a TD for Dun Laoghaire this year said she would not be pressing for disciplinary action.

Mr Wallace, who said he has learned his lesson, described the remarks as a bit of banter but clearly in bad taste.

The former developer also said if "secret microphones" were used elsewhere people up and down the country would be heard passing inappropriate remarks.

"But I've no right to be passing comments like that and I apologise," he told RTE Radio.

Mr Wallace said he rang Ms Mitchell O`Connor this morning to apologise and said she was very upset and not interested in talking to him.

He is already on a collision course with Dail colleagues and officials over dress codes. Last week he insisted he would not be wearing a suit despite new rules calling for TDs to wear smart attire to the chamber.

© Press Association