Scathing attack on Taoiseach over failure to take tougher stance on Varadkar

Scathing attack on Taoiseach over failure to take tougher stance on Varadkar

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: Took issue with personalised nature of the attacks. Picture: Niall Carson/PA

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was subject to a scathing attack from his own TDs over his failure to take a tougher stance on the Leo Varadkar controversy.

During some heated exchanges, Mr Martin was branded “a disgrace” by Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry who accused his leader of being the cause of the party’s poor poll ratings.

Mr MacSharry is said to interrupted his leader on a number of occasions and Mr Martin said he took issue with what he called the personalised nature of the attacks.

Several sources said a "shouting match" between the two men occurred but others have said the Taoiseach did not raise his voice.

He said Mr Martin allowed the party to be “dragged down” by backing the Fine Gael leader over his leaking of the GP contract to the National Association of GPs in April of last year.

In what was described as a very pointed attack, former agriculture minister Barry Cowen was also critical of Mr Martin highlighting he was denied due process before being sacked by the Taoiseach, while Mr Varadkar was given time and space to explain his situation.

Former party whip Michael Moynihan who was overlooked for promotion despite many years of loyal service said the causes of what lost the party the election are still in place and asked where the review of the election was.

Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill expressed what some of his colleagues said was outrage at the party’s low standing. He said many in the party are annoyed at what he said were differing standards for Mr Cowen and Dara Calleary and the pass being given to Mr Varadkar.

No easing of Covid-19 restrictions

At the end of the meeting, Mr Martin sought to defend his handling of the affair and also the sacking of Mr Cowen and the manner of Mr Calleary’s resignation.

Mr Martin also hit out at the fact that the exchanges in the meeting were being live-tweeted to the Irish Examiner and other media, describing the meeting as “effectively public meetings now”.

These comments led to Mr MacSharry coming back at him sharply calling on him to listen to his critics. “If he is not willing to listen he shouldn’t be leader,” Mr MacSharry reportedly said.

During the meeting, Mr Martin also made clear that there will be no premature ending of the Level 5 restrictions, insisting they will remain in place for the full six weeks.

Meanwhile, the Fine Gael leader has thanked his party for its support this week but “didn’t even say sorry” for the ongoing controversy over his leaking of the GP deal document to Dr Maitiu Ó Tuathail.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told his parliamentary party members that in his time in the Dáil he has never had to face a questioning similar to that which he faced on Tuesday.

In what sources say was a "throwaway remark", Mr Varadkar also reportedly warned members to be careful of who they think are their friends.

Mr Varadkar also spoke about the US election, saying that Joe Biden's lead in the tallies was good for Ireland, noting that Mr Biden has links to Ireland and an interest in Brexit.

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