‘I do not need legal advice on a simple question’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar received a slap down from Leas-Cheann Comhairle Pat the Cope Gallagher after trying to advise him in the Dáil.

Leo Varadkar also claimed he had “nothing to hide” in relation to a 2015 email sent to the Tánaiste detailing the legal strategy taken by the gardaí against whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe.

After initially resisting calls from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Labour and Solidarity-PBP to bring Frances Fitzgerald before the Dáil to answer questions on the controversy, Mr Varadkar said: “I want to say very clearly that I have nothing at all to hide on this matter, nor does the Government have anything to hide on this matter.”

However, Mr Varadkar went on to provoke anger from Mr Gallagher when he suggested he seek legal advice before it was agreed that the Tánaiste come before the Dáil for questioning.

The Taoiseach said: “I am still not really clear exactly what allegation is being made against the Tánaiste by members of this House. If we are going to have a statement on this, followed by questions, it is important to do as I propose.

“I do not wish to tell the Leas-Cheann Comhairle how to do his job here — he should not take me up in that way — but I believe it is important that he, his office or somebody get some legal advice. The tribunal has been established by this House to look into these matters.”

Mr Gallagher quickly hit back stating: “Hold on. I do not need legal advice on a simple question. Deputies are requesting that an opportunity be given to make statements. It is a matter for the House, not a matter of legal advice for me.”

His comments were met with support by those on the opposition benches who had all called for a special debate on the matter, and Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív even began to applaud.

Mr Gallagher added: “I might not be a lawyer but I have common sense. I have been here for 36 or 37 years and I will not be dictated to by anybody in this House, not even the Taoiseach.”

Mr Varadkar eventually bowed to the mounting pressure and agreed that the Tánaiste would be willing to address the Dáil.

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