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No apology for Sinn Féin TD after remarks about his homeless brother were made in the Dáil

Jonathan O’Brien clashed with his Labour counterpart in the Dáil last week.

Jonathan O'Brien in the Dáil last week
Jonathan O'Brien in the Dáil last week
Image: Oireachtas TV

SINN FÉIN TD Jonathan O’Brien has said the Labour backbencher Eric Byrne has not apologised to him over remarks made in the Dáil last week about his brother.

O’Brien said today that he didn’t expect Byrne to apologise to him, but claimed that ordinary Labour members had emailed him to distance themselves from the comments and in some cases said they would be complaining to Labour HQ about Byrne.

Byrne declined to comment this afternoon.

During heated exchanges in the Dáil last week O’Brien revealed that his brother, who is a recovering drug addict, is homeless and had been forced to go into a hostel where drug use was happening.

This prompted Byrne to ask why “does his [O'Brien's] good family not take him home?” A visibly angry O’Brien replied “shut your mouth”, prompting several angry exchanges among backbenchers.

Speaking at Leinster House today, O’Brien said he wasn’t bothered whether or not Byrne apologised to him.

“I’ve said what I said about Eric. I think Eric’s comments showed his own ignorance in relation to the issue of addiction and homelessness and he needs to reflect on that himself,” he said. 

He said he did not expect the Dublin South-Central TD to apologise to him and added: ”I’m sure I’ll see him in the chamber later and maybe he;ll put his head down and walk past.”

O’Brien, a TD for Cork North-Central, went on to claim that members of the Labour party had contacted him over the weekend to “totally distance themselves from Eric Byrne’s comments” .

“Some of them have even gone as far as to say they’re going to make an official complaint to Labour party headquarters, asking that he would withdraw the comments and issue an apology to myself, to my brother and to every other family out there who are going through the same issue of addiction and homeless,” he said.

He said that those who had been in touch with him were “with the grassroots” of the party.

Contacted for comment today, Byrne said he would not be saying anything more about the issue.

“I will not be making any further comments on this matter as I believe that Deputy O’Brien’s brother is entitled to privacy at this time,” Byrne told TheJournal.ie in a text message.

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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