The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty have launched highly personal attacks on each other in the Dáil.
During Leaders Questions this afternoon, Deputy Doherty hit out at the Tánaiste for hosting a dinner celebrating Fine Gael’s ten years in power while the ESRI warns that fuel poverty in Ireland is now at the highest level on record.
After Minister Varadkar quipped that Sinn Féin charges €1,000 a plate for dinners it hosts in America, Deputy Doherty referenced corruption allegations against the Tánaiste, currently being reviewed by the DPP.
'You were prosecuted. You were found guilty.'
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty launch personal attacks on each other in the Dáil today. pic.twitter.com/aaRTBs88uy
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) June 16, 2022
“I really thought somebody who ... the DPP is currently assessing whether they'll prosecute you under the Corruption Act, maybe you would be a bit more humble in your response,” he said.
Minster Varadkar then said Deputy Doherty had been prosecuted as a younger man.
“I think that was another cheap shot and a very personal shot and it says a lot of about you and the nature and character of the person you are,” he said.
“It is particularly strange coming from you because you were prosecuted.
“You abused and mistreated a Garda Síochána. For that you were prosecuted. You were found guilty. Yes, you got away without a conviction because of your age at the time but you were actually prosecuted. You were arrested. That’s what happened to you.
“In your party, there are a huge number of convicted criminals in your party and your wider Republic party.”
Very snippy Leaders' Questions today with both Leo Varadkar and Pearse Doherty launching personal attacks at each other over Garda investigations into them.
Varadkar over the leak file and Pearse Doherty over an incident with a Garda in 1998
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) June 16, 2022
He said Sinn Féin counts tax dodgers and “people convicted for murder” within its ranks.
“We also know what your party’s attitude is to rape and paedophiles and what you've done in relation to that,” he said. “Your cheap shots say a lot more about you than they do about me.”
The spat began when Deputy Doherty hit out at the Tánaiste for hosting a dinner to mark Fine Gael’s ten years in power.
“As you hosted a private dinner last night to celebrate Fine Gael's decade in power, the ESRI was finalising its report on energy poverty in the State,” he said.
“While you toasted your own success in Government last night, the reality is that many families out there are being pushed to the brink and let me tell you, the last thing they’re thinking about is raising a glass to Fine Gael’s success - because what they're worried about is how they can get to the end of the week.
“What they're worried about is how they'll pay the bills at the end of the month or put food on the table for their children.”
He called for an emergency budget in response to the cost-of-living crisis, warning: “You are allowing struggling households to wither on the vine and your message to them amounts, to: 'Buckle up because you’re on your own.'”
Minister Varadkar labelled that a ‘cheap shot’.
“I hosted a dinner last night to thank colleagues for their years of service and there was no public money involved,” he said
“You host dinners in America, you charge people €1,000 a plate to attend and your party leader flies first class to get there.
“That's what you do in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. I believe she's about to announce another first-class trip to Australia where she’ll be clinking champagne glasses with the Trinity alumni in Australia and meeting the Australian Business Association.
“So that is a cheap shot – particularly coming from a hypocritical party like yours.”
Deputy Doherty said fuel poverty was inevitable, “because you have failed to act in relation to protecting the most vulnerable.”
“One-in-three households are in energy poverty. You’re not a commentator. You’re the Tánaiste. You’re the leader of a party in Government. We need action now.
“There are people going to St Vincent de Paul. There are people queueing up for food parcels today. There are people sitting at home wondering how they're going to meet their bills this week.
“They need Government action right here right now.”