TD says he offered to resign after ‘Lapgate’ incident
Father of three says he felt he was caught up in ‘a tidal wave’
Mr Barry, a 44-year-old married father of three, issued an immediate apology for his actions after the incident and was reprimanded by Fine Gael over his behaviour but the incident was captured on Dáil Eireann cameras.
Today, Mr Barry who lives in Killavullen near Mallow in North Cork, went on his local Cork radio station C103FM and spoke about how the incident has impacted on him and how he offered his resignation to the party officials.
“On the night it happened and when the enormity of the reaction occurred, I believe in high standards...I didn’t just offer to resign from FG. I offered to step down entirely (as a TD). That is the way I felt,” he said.
“But I was told, look, don’t make a decision in the middle of something. It is probably good advice. I don’t particularly need politics. I am not saying that in any (boastful) fashion. I just felt so overwhelmed by what had occurred and I couldn’t change it.
“I felt the last thing I wanted to do was to bring the Dáil into disrepute. In fact, this has spread like a wildfire. I didn’t realise I had sparked so many issues. It was never meant to cause hurt or to cause offence,” he said.
“I got into politics because I felt I could make a difference, that I could get things done and achieve the goals I set for myself. This is the last thing I ever wanted to be at the centre of,” he told radio show host, Patricia Messenger.
The incident happened at around 2.40am on July 11th during the abortion debate and Mr Barry - who had been drinking earlier in the evening but “not excessively” in his own words - reached out and grabbed Ms Collins around the waist and pulled her on to his lap.
Ms Collins, who represents neighbouring Cork North West and who, like Mr Barry, was elected for the first time in the last election, accepted his apology and has made no issue or complaint about his behaviour on the night in question.
Today. Mr Barry said that he remains appalled at his actions which he said were the foolish by-product of “gallows humour”, and by the controversy his behaviour had generated particularly for Ms Collins, his own family and the Fine Gael party.
“It is still very raw for me. I cannot defend what happened. I have apologised again and again for what happened and for any hurt or offence I may have caused. It was meant to be a light-hearted thing...a bit of gallow’s humour”.
Mr Barry said he felt had he had been caught up in “tidal wave” such was the attention that the incident attracted both on social media and mainstream media both in Ireland and abroad with both SKY and CNN featuring the incident in their TV news bulletins.
“I can’t undo what was done and it is a salutary lesson for me .... . I am not here to make excuses or to lessen my apology,” he said before arguing that Dáil debates which extend well into the early hours was far from ideal.
“Look, there were TDs who fell asleep. It was just a very strange atmosphere. I am not in favour of it (late debates). I mean, the bank guarantee was done overnight. I just feel that if it cannot be done during the daytime, then stop and then do it the following day.”