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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 24 February, 2020

'I lost the rag to make Joan Burton wake up'

Jonathan O’Brien’s brother is battling drug addiction.

BACK IN JANUARY Jonathan O’Brien made headlines after a heated Dáil exchange took place between himself and Labour backbencher Eric Byrne.

The Sinn Féin TD told Byrne to “shut your mouth” after he questioned why O’Brien’s family didn’t take in his brother – a heroin addict.

Shortly afterwards, Byrne said he would not be commenting on the incident as O’Brien’s brother “is entitled to privacy“.

IMG_1024 Source: Nicky Ryan/

During an interview with, O’Brien said he had not planned on bringing his brother into the debate but did so because he “lost the rag” over how Tánaiste Joan Burton answered a question on drug use in homeless hostels.

Here he explains why he said what he did that day:

Source: Video

O’Brien told us that one good thing came out of the very public argument: His brother is clean and off the streets.

Source: Video

O’Brien was a member of the local drugs taskforce in Cork city, where he served on the council for over a decade.

He said a junior drugs minister is needed to tackle the growing addiction problem in Ireland, as Health Minister Leo Varadkar has “more than enough work to do” in relation to hospital waiting lists.

Background: Sinn Féin TD tells Labour backbencher to ‘shut his mouth’ after homeless brother revelation

Read: Cork’s heroin problem is ‘an on-going battle’

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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