Donnelly suffering from 'foot in microphone' says Fine Gael TD in 'vicious attack'

In what was described as a "clear and vicious attack" on Mr Donnelly, Mr Ring told his Fine Gael colleagues that the Minister was suffering from "foot in microphone" disease.
Donnelly suffering from 'foot in microphone' says Fine Gael TD in 'vicious attack'

The Mayo TD called on Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to talk to the Taoiseach about the performance of Stephen Donnelly.

Fine Gael's Michael Ring has launched a blistering attack on Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and urged Leo Varadkar to raise the Minister's performance with the Taoiseach.

In what was described as a "clear and vicious attack" on Mr Donnelly, Mr Ring told his Fine Gael colleagues that the Minister was suffering from "foot in microphone" disease.

Mr Ring referred to three mistakes made by the Health Minister in recent days, listing the problems with the hotel quarantine system, the new regulations introduced prohibiting religious services as well as his suggestion that those under the age of 30 could be prioritised in the vaccine rollout.

"He was ranting about how bad Donnelly was," one Fine Gael member said.

In what was read as also being a slight dig at Higher Education Minister Simon Harris, Mr Ring told a meeting of the parliamentary party that there "must be something in the water" in Wicklow as once people see a microphone they cannot shut up.

The Mayo TD called on Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to talk to the Taoiseach about the performance of his minister.

Responding, Leo Varadkar said he was shocked to wake up to the under 30’s story on Saturday. However, he said it was appropriate that Taoiseach Micheál Martin had dealt with the issue and nobody else.

Separately Mr Varadkar raised Sinn Féin’s use of social media and its online database telling his party members that there is “more in the story”.

The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has contacted Sinn Féin over the party's use of their Abú database, which collects information on voters.

Mr Varadkar told the meeting that Fine Gael had looked at developing a centralised database in recent years but decided against it on GDPR grounds.

Mr Varadkar commended Senator John Cummins for the body of work he has produced on the issue adding that there is "more in it".

At the Fianna Fáil meeting, both Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly made clear a resumption to Mass attendances is likely from next month.

Mr Martin wrote to Church leaders tonight acknowledging their concerns about a safe return to public worship. He assured Church leaders that the Government will meet next week to give careful and “positive consideration” to reopening places of worship from May 4.

Kilkenny TD John McGuinness said religious services must be allowed now. "It's a disgrace that you walk the isles in big stores but you can't have more than 10 in a huge church,” he said.

Mr Martin told the meeting the country is in a better position now than was modelled as all the indicators are holding steady. This is thanks to everyone for complying with the restrictions, he said.

He said next week, the government will focus on lifting the restrictions over the month of May on click & collect, non-essential retail, while saying hairdressers and barbers have suffered a lot and will be prioritised. He said the government also hopes to reopen the rest of construction.

Mr Martin said while challenges on vaccine delivery exist the target of vaccinating 82% of adults with one dose by the end of June still stands.

Junior health minister Mary Butler told the meeting that the national executive was unhappy about the level of leaks from parliamentary party meetings on a weekly basis.

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