Michael Lowry says spoke twice to Varadkar before backing him

Independent TD reacts sharply to Howlin demand that new Taoiseach end contact with him

Independent TD Michael Lowry has said he had "two discussions'' with Leo Varadkar before deciding to vote for him as Taoiseach.

He told the Dáil on Wednesday the conservations related to the programme for government, policies which he hoped Mr Varadkar would support.

“On the basis of those two discussions I had with him, I am very happy to support him as Taoiseach and to continue to support this Government, particularly on budgetary matters,’’ he added.

The Government has consistently denied it has any special arrangement with Mr Lowry in return for his support.

Sharp response

The Tipperary TD reacted sharply to a demand from Labour leader Brendan Howlin that Mr Varadkar end contact with him.

“He should not depend on Deputy Lowry’s support,’’ Mr Howlin added.

Mr Howlin said Mr Lowry had claimed in this week's Tipperary Star he would have access to the Taoiseach's office, his officials and ministers in return for his support.

Mr Lowry said he considered Mr Howlin's comments to be "nasty and offensive'', adding the Labour leader's words had been prompted by Tipperary Labour TD Alan Kelly.

“That would be very typical of his reaction to me in my county,’’ he added.

He said Mr Howlin had insulted the Tipperary people who had voted for him.

“I remind you, Deputy Howlin, like every member of this House here today, I have a democratic mandate from the people of Tipperary who have voted for me consistently and put me as their representative in this House,’’ he added.

‘Confidence and trust’

“I have enjoyed their confidence and their trust for over 30 years and I hope when the next election is called they will re-endorse me as a member of this parliament.’’

Mr Lowry said he had the same entitlement to access the systems of government as any other TD.

He said he was voting for Mr Varadkar because the country needed strong leadership, continuity and stable government.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy said she took issue with being preached at on budgetary responsibility by Mr Lowry.

He was “someone who has been in the courts and who has been with Revenue in relation to this own tax affairs’’, she added.