TDs claim Tánaiste feels ‘it is beneath him’ to attend Dáil to deal with Opposition

Varadkar criticised for failing to turn up for debates on his own legislation

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar arrives at Dublin Castle for a cabinet meeting. File photograph:  Niall Carson/PA

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar arrives at Dublin Castle for a cabinet meeting. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA

 

TDs have hit out at Tánaiste Leo Varadkar for failing to attend the Dáil to deal with emergency legislation under his remit and claimed that it appeared “to be beneath him” to deal with the Opposition.

Labour’s Aodhán Ó Riordáin said there had been two private member’s debates on the broad theme of employment rights and legislation dealing with State guarantees for loans to businesses but he was still waiting “for an opportunity to engage with the Minister”.

“It appears to those of us in opposition that it is beneath him to address matters pertaining to his Department on the floor of the Oireachtas.”

Sinn Féin enterprise spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly said Mr Varadkar “has not seen fit to turn up to discuss his own legislation”.

They were commenting during debate on companies legislation and ahead of leaders’ questions which Mr Varadkar is scheduled to attend in the House.

She said the Tánaiste, who is Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment was showing a “disrespectful pattern” when he did not appear in the Dáil on Thursday to deal with legislation to assist firms continue in business during the pandemic.

The Dublin Fingal TD said her party had been asked to waive legislative scrutiny on the Bill and had agreed to do so to facilitate its passage but the Minister was not showing respect to the House.

Minister of State Robert Troy introduced the Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Covid-19) 2020.

She asked Mr Troy to “convey to your senior ministerial colleague the dissatisfaction” that he had not attended.

Earlier this month her party’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty hit out at the Tánaiste who failed to show for debate on the Credit Guarantee Bill to provide State guarantees for EU-funded loans to businesses in the pandemic.

But Minister of State Damien English said Mr Varadkar was at Cabinet meetings that had to be rescheduled because of European Council meetings.

Mr Ó Riordáin said there were had been a number of debates under the broad umbrella of the economy, employment rights and company legislation, “but if the Minister is not present for at least part of those debates, he will not hear those messages or be influenced by them”.