The Attorney General has created "widespread anger" and confusion with his intervention around outdoor gatherings, according to Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin.
Deputy Ó Broin said he finds the situation "absolutely appalling" - claiming the Attorney General has come out and "essentially provided political cover" for Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
Mr Varadkar has confirmed he attended an outdoor event with around 50 people at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin on July 21st.
It was hosted by former minister Katherine Zappone days before she was appointed as a UN Special Envoy, a role she has now turned down.
The Tánaiste has insisted the event was fully COVID-19 compliant and within the guidelines set out in July.
Amid the controversy, the Government yesterday released a statement saying they were advised by Attorney General Paul Gallagher "that regulations provide for organised outdoor events and gatherings up to 200 people, including social, recreational, exercise, cultural, entertainment or community events".
The statement caused confusion among the hospitality sector, who had been under the impression that larger outdoor gatherings were not allowed.
Fáilte Ireland guidelines are now being updated to account for the latest advice from the Attorney General.
Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin spoke to The Hard Shoulder about the latest developments.
He said: “Not only has the Attorney General added to the confusion, but he has also created widespread anger - particularly among event organisers and restaurateurs.
“We were all very clear what the public health advice was up until the Attorney General’s intervention. If you were looking to book a meal, it was for a table for a small number of people.
“For the Attorney General to come out and essentially provide political cover for the Tánaiste - who, keep in mind, had negotiated with industry the detail of the restrictions on outdoor dining - I have to say it’s absolutely appalling.”
The Dublin TD said it's "even more troubling" that Leo Varadkar hasn't come forward to publicly answer questions about the controversy.
He suggested it was clear from the Fáilte Ireland guidelines that tables could not be block-booked for large gatherings.
He argued: “The fact this is just being so-called clarified after it was revealed the Tánaiste attended such an event… I think it brings the Attorney General’s office into disrepute.
“I’d like to hear from the Tánaiste, I have to say.
"This is just the latest in a series of revelations over the last week, which kind of speaks about a particular culture of this Government - where there’s one set of rules for people in the Government, and one rule for the rest of us. When somebody is caught stepping outside those rules, goalposts change.”
It comes as both Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney have acknowledged "mistakes were made" in the way Ms Zappone was appointed to the special envoy role.
Deputy Ó Broin said the events of the last week will damage relations between the Government parties - suggesting Taoiseach Micheál Martin has ended up with as ‘much egg on his face’ as Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar.
However, he believes the real issue is that public confidence in public health measures is being “undermined by the minute” with the recent revelations.