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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 17 January, 2020

Leo: Halligan was 'absolutely wrong' - but question 'not a hanging offence'

“I don’t think it merits ending Minister Halligan’s career.”

Image: Eamonn Farrell/

THE TAOISEACH HAS said that John Halligan was “absolutely wrong” to ask a civil servant if she was married in a job interview, but that he shouldn’t resign.

Halligan has said that he would be willing to pay the €7,500 compensation that a government department has been ordered to give a woman after comments he made during a job interview.

The woman was asked by Halligan if she was married or had children during the interview in May 2016, and she took her case to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

There have been calls for Halligan to resign, but Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, speaking at the Fine Gael national conference in Cavan, said the question is “not a hanging offence”.

“It was absolutely wrong, absolutely inappropriate to ask anyone in an interview about their family status or their marital status.

It has gone to the WRC, the WRC made a finding and he’s accepted that finding. He’s going to pay the bill himself, he has apologised and accepted that he was wrong.

“I think that brings finality to the matter, I don’t think it’s a hanging offence.

I don’t think it merits ending Minister Halligan’s career.

In a statement earlier this week, Halligan said:

“As a true advocate for equality for all, I regret that this incident occurred. The reasons behind my actions that day was to try and be as accommodating as possible to people who have children.”

He said this was the first time he had conducted an interview of this sort, and said he did not realise that it was unacceptable to ask such a question.

Read: John Halligan says he’d pay €7.5k compensation as opposition calls on him to resign

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