Taoiseach withdraws Dáil remark about ‘sinning priest’ Martin

Varadkar said remarks ‘caused offence to people I never intended to offend’

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arriving last week at the Church-State dialogue plenary meeting  at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arriving last week at the Church-State dialogue plenary meeting at Dublin Castle. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has formally corrected the Dáil record by withdrawing a remark he made comparing Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to a “secretly sinning priest”.

Mr Varadkar became embroiled in controversy last week, angering Catholic clergy and lay persons when he compared Mr Martin to a priest who tells people how to avoid sin while “secretly going behind the altar and engaging in any amount of sin himself”.

He apologised the next day but apologised formally again in the Dáil on Wednesday and withdrew his comments, correcting the record of the Dáil.

At the start of questions about his department, Mr Varadkar said he had a special statement to make: “I made some remarks about sinning priests this time last week on leaders’ questions.

“They caused offence to people I never intended to offend. I wish to apologise to anyone I offended - including the deputy [MR MARTIN]- and I withdraw the remarks,” he said.

Leas Cheann Comhairle Pat The Cope Gallagher then called for the House to move on to Taoiseach’s questions.

Later in his first intervention at question time, the Fianna Fáil leader welcomed Mr Varadkar’s remarks and said he was glad he had done that.

The Taoiseach had made the controversial comments during testy exchanges with Mr Martin, during which the Fianna Fáil leader had called on him not to be “petty, silly or idiotic”.