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Archbishop Martin told Taoiseach to use his own profession the next time he is looking for an example of hypocrisy

Martin said Varadkar should have used the example of an unhealthy doctor who tells people to lead a healthy life.

Leo Varadkar and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Leo Varadkar and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
Image: RollingNews.ie

ARCHBISHOP DIARMUID MARTIN told the Taoiseach to use his own profession the next time he was looking for an example of hypocrisy.

In a meeting the day after Leo Varadkar likened Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin in the Dáil as a priest sinning “behind the altar”, the archbishop told the Taoiseach the “next time you’re looking to do that, look at your own profession as an example and talk about an unhealthy doctor who tells people to lead a healthy life while smoking and drinking”. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke today, the Taoiseach said that example would have “better encompassed” what he was trying to say in the Dáil that day.

Varadkar had to apologise to the Dáil over the comments in which he said: 

“I am always amused and bemused that Deputy Martin likes to accuse me of being partisan and personal yet, as evidenced by his name-calling today, he is very capable of being partisan and personal himself.”

The deputy reminds me of one of those parish priests who preaches from the altar telling us to avoid sin while secretly going behind the altar and engaging in any amount of sin himself.

The comments caused outrage among the Catholic community with religious leaders such as the Bishop of Waterford calling them “hurtful” and “unfortunate”.

The Taoiseach said today that he had picked the wrong words to use in the “heated exchange”.

“I think and I was looking for a metaphor for hypocrisy and it wasn’t a good one, I shouldn’t have used it and that is why I apologised for it because it caused offence.”

The recent Irish Times article written by Father Brendan Hoban entitled ‘What does Varadkar really think of priests?’ was also raised with the Taoiseach. 

Father Hoban wrote this week that one of the most difficult things priests have had to deal with after the Catholic Church child abuse cases is whether people in their own communities look at priests and wonder if they are abusers too. 

When asked about this issue, the Taoiseach said:

No, no that wasn’t what I meant, that wasn’t what was I was saying at all. I do appreciate that is the way it was heard and taken up by people.

“I am someone brought in the Catholic faith,” said the Taoiseach, who added that his sister was married in a Catholic Church and that he had buried his grandmother in Catholic cemetery two weeks ago.

“So, I understand why people were offended,” he said.

Varadkar said the “real Leo Varadkar” can be seen in the “considered speech” he gave during the Papal visit in which he recognised the role the Church played when the State failed to deliver services for the people of Ireland in the past. 

He said he hoped his comments would not influence the electorate’s decision in the next general election. 

The Taoiseach was also asked about other issues, such as the return of Lisa Smith, and the Maria Bailey controversy. 

He said he would be dealing with the repercussions for Bailey next week. When asked if she is going to face sanctions, he paused and said: 

I don’t want to announce that on the radio out of respect to Maria and her family.

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