Varadkar has Sinn Fein, on the Ropes, they could look for Support, from the Royal Family, just a Thought?

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Bitter Dáil exchanges as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says Sinn Féin should answer questions about ‘links to organised crime’

• Yesterday 16:38

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA© Brian Lawless

Bitter exchanges over politicians answering questions blew up in the Dáil today.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar provoked Opposition outrage by saying People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy should answer questions for “detaining two women” several years ago.

Mr Murphy was complaining about junior minister Niall Collins not taking questions last week when making a Dáil statement about a land affair in Limerick 16 years ago.

The Taoiseach’s remark was understood to be a reference to Mr Murphy’s participation in a protest at a certificate presentation ceremony in Jobstown in 2014 at which former Tánaiste Joan Burton and her adviser, Karen O’Connell, were trapped for up to three hours.

Mr Varadkar said this was much more recent than the accusations related to Mr Collins, which date back to 2007 and 2008.

When Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald took him to task for his personalised remarks, Mr Varadkar turned his attention to her – and accused Sinn Féin of having links with organised crime.

She said: “Can I say for the record I think your response to Deputy Murphy was really disgraceful.”

Mr Varadkar shot back that Sinn Féin was refusing to answer questions about “your party’s finances and links to organised crime”. It should “come in here and answer questions,” he said.

“It’s not a surprise that you would align yourself with Deputy Murphy in this regard.”

The slanging match provoked heightened emotions and raised voices as Leas Cheann Comhairle Catherine Connolly sought to impose order.

It began when Mr Murphy referred to “a deeply unsatisfactory statement by Minister (Niall) Collins last Thursday, in while he failed to clearly state whether he knew that his wife had expressed interest in land (at Patrickswell) when he participated in the decision to put it up for sale”.

Three offers had been received by Limerick County Council, but Mr Collins “failed to note that two of those three actually came from his own wife”.

He added: “We need a question and answer session with Mr Collins this week.”

The Taoiseach said Mr Murphy was retuning to the events of a local area committee 16 years ago, before Mr Collins became a TD, much less a minister.

Ministers were accountable to the Dáil for the performance of their duties and that of their department. It was “a different matter in my view”.

He added: “If TDs are going to come in here and account for actions that are not related to their ministerial functions, why is it Deputy you didn’t come in here?

“You detained two women against their will in Jobstown several years ago.”

Mr Murphy said it was “another abuse of privilege”. He was found not guilty in a false imprisonment case subsequently heard by the courts.

However, the Taoiseach: “Given that case was even more recent than the Bruff Local Area Committee meeting, why is it not appropriate for Deputy Murphy to come in here and take questions?”

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