Advertisement

Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
# Leaders' Questions
'If you want to call me a liar, call me a liar': Dáil row breaks out between Kelly and Martin
Micheal Martin has denied that he said teachers would be exempt from Covid-19 isolation rules.

VideoParliament Ireland / YouTube

THERE WERE TETCHY scenes in the Dáil this afternoon when a row broke out between the Taoiseach and Labour leader Alan Kelly amid an allegation that Micheál Martin said teachers would be exempt from Covid-19 isolation rules.

Kelly claimed Martin had told him in a private conversation on the floor of the Dáil yesterday that teachers would be exempt from new rules requiring all members of a household to isolate for five days if there is a positive case in the home.

The Taoiseach rejected the claims when questioned about the matter at last night’s press conference with reporters, calling it a “total misconstruction” adding that it didn’t happen.

A video of the pair chatting in the Dáil floor is available on the Oireachtas website, and has been shared on social media. 

Today, Kelly said the Taoiseach looked “silly” in his denials that that a conversation took place.

“If you want to call me a liar, call me a liar”, Kelly said.

In testy exchanges the Labour leader challenged the Taoiseach on the record of the House.

“I know you’re very annoyed about it, right? Because you messed up,” said Kelly.

He said: “I did ask you about schools yesterday, as I’m very concerned about them, genuinely concerned about them.

“I did speak to you afterwards after Taoiseach’s Questions and I said they will be additionally affected by the new five-day rule.

“I have young kids and my wife’s a teacher. Your reply to me was ‘no, teachers are exempt’. You know that.

“I know you’re very annoyed about it, right? Because you messed up. This wasn’t a total misconstruction.

“You even denied we had a conversation in here, which makes you look rather silly, considering there’s a video.

“So Taoiseach, in your reply, I’m not going to dwell on that because we have more serious things, if you want to call me a liar, call me a liar.

Responding, the Taoiseach said:

I learned something about you yesterday that I will not forget, and that will govern our relationship from here onwards.

Martin said he had been around a lot longer in the Dáil than Kelly, adding that “you learn something new every day”.

He denied saying what Kelly alleged, stating that the relationship with the Labour leader has been damaged by the exchange.

“I learned something about you yesterday that I will not forget, and that will govern our relationship from here onwards, in terms of the engagements.

“I’ve never seen the likes of it before in terms of what transpired.”

He said Kelly had asked him nothing about household contacts on the Dail record.

He added: “Suddenly you come over here for 30 or 40 seconds, you scamper up, you tell your education correspondent who tweets something, and and it’s reported as fact.”

A tweet by Labour education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin sent yesterday said the Taoiseach had confirmed to Kelly that teachers would be exempt from the five-day rule.

“If you want to call me a liar, call me a liar. What’s the difference between misconstruction and lying?” said Kelly.

“I never said those words. I never said what you construed what I said,” said Martin, adding that he had called Kelly afterwards “to make it very clear to you how I regard the interchange”.

Kelly responded: “You’re also the Taoiseach who said the banks weren’t bailed out.

“Your roaring down the phone and threats in here don’t bother me. I’ll let the public decide who they believe. I think we already know.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
118
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel