Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has been accused of “rank hypocrisy” after missing the Presidential inauguration on November 11 to attend a $400 plate dinner in New York.
During Leaders' Questions, Ms McDonald sought to highlight pending changes to how unvouched expenses are treated by the Revenue Commissioners, saying this would impact some of the lowest paid workers in the country.
She compared the planned clamp down to the soft treatment given to the super wealthy by Fine Gael in office.
Ms McDonald raised Mr Varadkar's Ard Fheis promise to deliver five years of income tax cuts if re-elected and contrasted it with the decision to cut entitlements for flat rate expenses.
This is "a few bob that workers claim to cover the cost of equipment" like tools, uniforms, stationery, she said.
In response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar went on the attack saying Ms McDonald sought to skip the swearing-in of President Michael D Higgins at Dublin Castle to attend Sinn Féin fundraising dinner in the United States.
“All that's changing, from January 2020, if at all is that such claims now have to be vouched; those tax deductions are still available,” he said.
He accused Ms McDonald of "hobnobbing with the super rich at a $400-a-place lunch for your super-rich supporters".
The Taoiseach also accused Ms McDonald and her party of telling "porkies" about its own salaries "for years and years and years" and slams "hypocrisy" over Sinn Féin claiming to care about those on lower pay. "We are clamping down on tax breaks left, right and centre," he said.
Also at Leaders' Questions, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin raised the fact that today is International Childrens' Day and highlighted the plight of children who are living in emergency accommodation.
"Being homeless is a devastating experience for a child, not a shortcoming… that is a terrible devastating position to be in,” he said while accusing the Taoiseach of engaging in "glib rhetoric".
In resposne, the Taoiseach said it is important to realise the deficiencies but also to acknowledge progress made in recent years.
The Government is making inroads on several fronts, he said. "There are many shortcomings and a lot of work still to be done. But it would be wrong not to acknowledge the enormous progress that has been made in recent years as well,” the Taoiseach said.
Independent TD Tommy Broughan highlighted the ongoing campaign of the families of the victims of the Stardust tragedy in 1981 and called on the Attorney General Seamus Woulfe to use his statutory powers to give the go ahead to a fresh inquest.
In response, the Taoiseach set out the powers available to Mr Woulfe as Attorney General and said that while some correspondence has been received from solicitors for victims' families, no formal request about new inquest has been lodged.
He said any request would be given full consideration.
During questions on promised legislation, Mr Varadkar confirmed that he had recieved the Smyth report into the National Broadband tendering process, which was ordered in the wake of the resignation of ex-Communications Minister Denis Naughten.
Mr Varadkar said the report will have to be given to those mentioned in it for their feedback, and certain parts will have to be redacted because of commercial sensitivities.
He said the intention of the Government is to publish the report in the coming days.