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Varadkar's Garret slur

A MAJOR row has erupted in Fine Gael after TD Leo Varadkar claimed party elder Garret FitzGerald "effectively destroyed the country".

In the Dail yesterday Mr Varadkar described Taoiseach Brian Cowen's Cabinet reshuffle as "an appalling botch job" and went on to compare him to his own former party leader and ex-Taoiseach.

"He is a Garret FitzGerald. He has trebled the national debt and effectively destroyed the country," Mr Varadkar said of the Taoiseach.

"He has brought us a wasteful botched job of a Cabinet reshuffle. It is the last thing he will do, so he should enjoy writing boring articles in The Irish Times in a few years," he added in what was taken as another reference to Dr FitzGerald.


Last night frontbench Fine Gael colleague Fergus O'Dowd insisted: "Leo Varadkar must apologise and withdraw his insulting Dail comments."

Describing the remarks as "disgraceful" he added that Garret FitzGerald had "attracted thousands of voters to Fine Gael including myself. He was a reforming and caring politician." He also said the former leader's vision of social justice and a caring Ireland "will be seen as the major reforming force in our time".

A Fine Gael spokesman, however, said that he was not worried about the colourful manner in which Mr Varadkar had expressed his opinions.

In heated exchanges in the Dail, Mr Cowen responded to Mr Varadkar's taunts by calling him "the Dan Quayle of Fine Gael".