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Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 21 April 2021

'Extraordinary': Micheál hits out at Leo for calling on Dublin Mayor to address canal tent incident

Gardaí were alerted to the incident at Wilton Terrace yesterday afternoon.

Fianna  Fáil launched their campaign today in Dublin.
Fianna Fáil launched their campaign today in Dublin.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has said it is “extraordinary” that the Taoiseach would call on the Lord Mayor of Dublin to make a statement on the canal tent incident. 

man was left in a serious condition after the tent he was sleeping in was removed during a clean-up of an area in Dublin 2 yesterday. 

Gardaí were alerted to the incident at Wilton Terrace yesterday afternoon. 

The man was sleeping in his tent when it was being removed in an attempt to tidy the canal walk way. The man received injuries during the incident. 

Speaking to the media at Fine Gael’s election campaign launch in Monaghan, Leo Varadkar said the homeless man who sustained injuries in Dublin’s Grand Canal area is known to homeless services, had been offered accommodation in the past. 

He wished him a speedy recovery and said everything would be done to accommodate his needs. 

005 FG Combilift The Taoiseach launched the Fine Gael campaign in Monaghan today Source: Rollingnews.ie

While he said he understood the tent was checked before being removed, he added: “Obviously something went wrong here.” 

He went on to state that it is important that the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Fianna Fáil election candidate Paul McAuliffe, make a statement on the matter. 

Varadkar told the media that he is “politically responsible in the city council, however he later said he was not trying to apportion political blame by calling on McAuliffe to make a statement. 

“No, I didn’t mention blame at all. I think it is reasonable that the Lord Mayor of Dublin, who is politically accountable for Dublin City Council, should also make a statement,” he said. 

Micheál Martin was surprised when asked about the matter, and in turn criticised the Taoiseach for stating that the Lord Mayor should make a statement. 

“That is extraordinary, that the Taoiseach would call on the Lord Mayor to make a statement about some terrible tragedy like that,” he said, adding that is not how he does business. 

McAuliffe told TheJournal.ie this afternoon that he was “disappointed the Taoiseach went down this road today”. 

“A man was seriously injured and yet An Taoiseach appeared to be more interested in apportioning blame to someone else. Waterways Ireland carried out the works this morning. Officials from the Dublin Regional Housing Executive (DRHE) were on the scene to support any homeless people with accessing accommodation.

“I understand due to the precarious location of the tent, Waterways Ireland decided to make use of a mechanical vehicle. All of these details will now be the subject if a Garda investigation.

“There may be an election ongoing at the present but a human being has been seriously injured this morning. That was my first concern when I heard about it, and I wanted to find out the details and so I have asked for a full report. It seems that the Taoiseach’s first thought was to play a political game,” said McAuliffe. 

Martin rounded on Fine Gael this afternoon, stating that they have failed to solve the housing crisis.

He said that while Fianna Fáil will not promise to do everything in government, they will tackle the housing situation and make commitments to significantly increase housing output. 

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The party’s housing spokesperson, Darragh O’Brien said he was shocked to learn about the incident, calling it a “national disgrace” that “demonstrates a lack of empathy and understanding for our homeless communities”.

Violent crime

During the launch of the party’s campaign, Martin also said he was concerned about the rise in the spate of serious violent crime, referencing the case of body parts being discovered this week. 

He said the response to violent criminal attacks seen in Dublin and Louth “deserves a higher and more robust response”.

 “There’s a sense that we’re losing control of the State, in particular the age that young people are becoming involved in criminality is worrying,” he said.

In other remarks, the Fianna Fáil leader called on Fine Gael to “stop the silly attacks” on Brexit and confirmed that his party colleague, MEP Billy Kelleher, will be voting in favour of the Brexit Withdrawal agreement later this month.

Martin again ruled out speaking to Sinn Féin after the general election, adding that his  statement that he would not go into government with Sinn Féin was “very credible”.

“I’ve outlined reasons why in terms of how that party operates… as I could never be sure with Sinn Féin who you’re dealing with,” he said.

“Is it with unelected officials in Belfast who rule the roost, who control the levers of power within that party,” he asked. 

 With reporting by Cónal Thomas and PA.

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