Leo Varadkar forced to withdraw description of Roisín Shortall as a ‘hypocrite’
Ciara Phelan and Abbie Lester – Yesterday 13:59
Tanáiste Leo Varadkar was forced to withdraw a remark in the Dáil in which he called Social Democrats co-leader Roisín Shortall a “hypocrite”.
Ms Shortall called for Mr Varadkar to withdraw the comment as she said the use of the word impugned her character.
During Leaders’ Questions, Ms Shortall said she knows Mr Varadkar was probably feeling relieved that SIPO had announced they will not be investigating his leaking of a draft document to a friend of his in 2019.
In response, Mr Varadkar said he agreed that the Government should review and strengthen the powers of SIPO with regard to its remit when it comes to standards and ethics.
He went on to say Ms Shortall was vocal while he was under investigation on whether he could become Taoiseach again in December if the investigation had not concluded.
He questioned whether Ms Shortall would feel the same about Sinn Féin, if at any point that any Sinn Féin politician is under investigation by a public body and would she apply the same standard to Sinn Féin and her own party.
Ms Shortall accused Mr Varadkar of trying to “distract attention” and asked him why he was doing so.
Mr Varadkar said “because you’re a hypocrite, that’s why” and went on to say “it’s okay to be dodgy if you’re on the left”. Ms Shortall asked Mr Varadkar if he would repeat the comments he made to her outside of the Dáil chamber and accused him of playing games and attempting to draw the Social Democrats into a row with Sinn Féin.
Ms Shortall then made a point of order in the Dáil and said she wanted Mr Varadkar to withdraw his remark in which he called her a hypocrite. She told the Dáil the comments the Tanáiste made about her “impugned” her character, integrity and good name.
Leas Cheann Comhairle, Catherine Connolly, asked Mr Varadkar to withdraw the word hypocrite as “not acceptable”. Mr Varadkar said he was happy to withdraw the comments but said he will replace the term with having “double-standards”. He also said Ms Shortall also impugned his character.
Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar told the Dáil that the Government will be reviewing housing targets in the State’s Housing for All plan next year with the view to an increase. He agreed with Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty that the housing crisis is an emergency.