The Attorney General's intervention in the debate around outdoor events has been "incredibly unhelpful", a Government TD says.
Green TD Neasa Hourigan says the last week has been a "bit of a mess" due to the controversy over Katherine Zappone's appointment to a special envoy role and the recent confusion around outdoor gatherings.
It comes as Fáilte Ireland works to redraw its advice to the hospitality sector is being redrafted after the Attorney General said it's legal to host outdoor events of up to 200 people.
The Attorney General's intervention came amid controversy over Tánaiste Leo Varadkar attending an organised outdoor event for 50 people at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin last month.
Up to 200 people have been allowed to attend organised outdoor events since last month under official guidelines - although the advice to the hospitality sector said no organised events or multiple table bookings were allowed.
Mr Varadkar has said he's confident he didn't breach COVID-19 guidelines by attending the function, which was organised by former minister Katherine Zappone.
However, the Restaurants Association of Ireland has said they weren't aware larger outdoor gatherings were allowed until yesterday.
The news came amid the political controversy over Ms Zappone's appointment to a special envoy job - a role she has now confirmed she won't take up.
On Newstalk Breakfast, Deputy Hourigan said the last week has been "a bit of a mess" - something she apologises for.
She said: “The thing I’m sorriest about is the intervention of the Attorney General yesterday. I think that was incredibly unhelpful.
“I think the message has gone out now is that it’s OK for 200 people to get together in a field now and have a party. There is a difference between the law and guidelines, and the only way we’ve managed to do things over the last 18 months is through consent and the cooperation of people.
“I think the intervention last night implies a message that it’s OK now, we can all get together. The reality is we’re at 1,300 [daily] cases… and it’s the wrong message to send out.”
She said more clarity is now needed, saying there are plenty of gigs and concerts that could happen outside with 200 people if that's what is allowed.
However, she added she doesn't believe that should be happening for now given the current COVID-19 numbers.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin says Leo Varadkar's attendance at the Merrion Hotel function has undermined public confidence in health guidelines.
Health spokesperson David Cullinane says the Tánaiste has explaining to do.
He said: “We need to hear from the Tánaiste very, very quickly - I think his actions have undermined the public’s own public health confidence.
“I think his actions demonstrate to people that this is more stroke politics from Fine Gael. Fine Gael has been in power for too long: they feel they can just do what they like, and ride out all of these storms.”
Government ministers have been silent this week amid the controversies,
However, there is deep frustration and anger at the handling of the Katherine Zappone sage, particularly in Fianna Fáil.