Leo Varadkar criticises Michelle O'Neill's appearance at Dublin 'photo-op' amid Covid risks

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has criticised Sinn Féin TDs and leaders for turning up at a “photo op” at a funeral despite Covid-19 concerns and social distancing rules.
Leo Varadkar criticises Michelle O'Neill's appearance at Dublin 'photo-op' amid Covid risks
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar called the attendance of Sinn Féin politicians at Bobby Storey's funeral a "photo op". Picture:Gareth Chaney/Collins
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar called the attendance of Sinn Féin politicians at Bobby Storey's funeral a "photo op". Picture:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has criticised Sinn Féin's leader in the North, Michelle O'Neill, for turning up at a “photo op” in Dublin despite Covid-19 concerns.

While Mr Varadkar said he did not want to weigh into the row over Sinn Féin politicians and officials who attended Republican Bobby Storey's funeral in west Belfast among the 1,800 strong crowd this week, he had criticism for Ms O'Neill, travelling from the North to attend a Dail ceremony last weekend.

The Fine Gael leader contrasted that move with newly appointed Taoiseach Micheál Martin being unable to have his Cork family at his side when he was elected government leader in the Dail in recent days.

Speaking at a business launch in Dublin, Mr Varadkar said: “I think it's important that politicians try to lead by example, that we follow the rules, regulations that we may make and expect other people to make.

I don't want to comment on a funeral because ultimately it was a funeral, we need to respect that.

"But I do think there was a huge contrast that we saw last Saturday where Taoiseach Micheal Martin became Taoiseach and his family could not travel from Cork to be with him.

"In contrast, Michelle O'Neill [Sinn Féin's leader in the North] turns up at a photo-op [in the Dáil]. It does show a different attitude to public health.

"Sinn Féin is different to other parties, not in a good way.”

The remarks come amid calls for Sinn Féin to stay away from the Dáil and Leinster House for two weeks, in order to self isolate after attending the packed funeral ceremony in Belfast on Tuesday.

This article was amended at 2.46pm

More in this section

Lunchtime News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up