FF's Timmy Dooley says comment on Varadkar's handling of the backstop 'ill-timed and a little harsh'

The Fianna Fáil TD who criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's handling of the backstop situation has admitted his comment was "ill-timed and a little harsh".

FF's Timmy Dooley says comment on Varadkar's handling of the backstop 'ill-timed and a little harsh'

The Fianna Fáil TD who criticised Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's handling of the backstop situation has admitted his comment was "ill-timed and a little harsh".

Fianna Fáil communications spokesperson Timmy Dooley broke his silence on the controversy insisting his point has been "taken out of context" and "misrepresented".

In a message on Twitter on Tuesday, just hours before Mr Varadkar and new British prime minister Boris Johnson's first phone call, Mr Dooley criticised the Government's approach to the Brexit stand-off to date.

Arguing a lack of diplomacy has made an already difficult situation worse, Mr Dooley wrote:

The stand-off with our nearest neighbour is as a direct result of Taoiseach Varadkar's failure to engage in basic diplomacy over the past two years. The Government's lack of experience and arrogance will hurt Ireland in the coming months.

The comment provoked an angry Fine Gael response and was later deleted before being clarified by Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin, who stressed his party is fully supportive of the backstop. It was picked up by British media as a sign Ireland's resolve is weakening.

On RTE Radio's News at One programme on Friday, Mr Dooley broke his silence on the issue.

"I thought you might raise that alright," Mr Dooley said when asked. "Look, in the first instance, it was probably somewhat ill-timed and maybe a little harsh.

"It was seized on by certain sections of the British media to suggest that somehow I wasn't supportive of the backstop, but nothing could be further from the truth. It was more about domestic politics," he said.

Mr Dooley said he believes the comment "was unfairly taken out of context" by commentators and said it has now been "put to bed", adding when asked if he regretted the remark, that it has been "misrepresented" by Brexiteers.

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