Jack Quann
Jack Quann

12.59 29 May 2020


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An Independent TD has hit out at pictures of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar sun-bathing in the Dublin's Phoenix Park.

Mattie McGrath told Pat Kenny that Mr Varadkar needs to "lead by example".

"We have our Taoiseach out in the Phoenix Park having a picnic - I thought picnics were one the things that were prescribed you couldn't have.

"And I think there was cans as well - so what kind of image was that to portray recently, and very little in the Irish media about it.

"Very little in the Irish media about it; every media in the world carried it, but we were more obsessed with [Dominic] Cummings in England and [Boris] Johnson than dealing with our own failings here in Ireland."

"I mentioned it in the Dáil briefly on Wednesday but I didn't dwell on it".

"Miriam Lord made some reference to cans, that it was a can party or something like, dismissed it as if [it was] frolics of young teenage boys - but he's not, he's an adult and he has a responsible job and he needs to lead by example".

A Government spokesperson has previously said Mr Varadkar adhered to public health guidance, and that he has been living on the grounds of Farmleigh House during the COVID-19 emergency.

Photos emerged earlier this week of Mr Varadkar enjoying the sun with his partner and two friends.

The images led to claims he had breached the COVID-19 lockdown, as the park is 8km from his home on Carpenterstown Road in Castleknock.

Mr McGrath also said the Government needs to kick start the Irish economy now, and criticised the two metre social distancing rule.

"It's a farce at this stage because it's not being implemented in many of our hospitals because it can't be at A&E.

"I have evidence of two hospitals - one major hospital in Cork and one in Dublin - this week.

"In Cork, it requests one metre distancing - two preferably - but one in black and white.

"Yesterday in Dublin [there was] no mention of distancing, people all over the place, very close congregated, business as usual.

"It's very hard for the staff and I accept that totally.

"But how can the same HSE and Dr Holohan be implementing this when it's not being implemented in the hospitals."

"We have to move on: apart from the economy, the people with mental health, the people waiting for all different kinds of services".

"We've done great work, had great strides - we made one gaping hole [at] the border, the ports and the airports.

"The nursing homes is an out-and-out scandal, but I'm talking about sealing our borders."

But he said the introduction of a 14-day quarantine for people coming into the country is "nonsensical because it's too late".

On re-opening the economy, he said: "We're going to kill business - we're going to have to kick-start the economy and kick-start it big time.

"It's like kick-starting a Honda 50 - to kick-start 750 is a big difference.

"This is going to be very, very, very problematic.

"And the longer we leave this closed down, the harder it's going to get".

Main image: Independent TD Mattie McGrath arriving at Leinister House in February 2020. Picture by: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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Covid-19 Economy Leo Varadkar Mattie McGrath Phoenix Park Social Distancing

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