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Varadkar corrects Dáil record and apologises for comments about priests sinning behind the altar

Varadkar said he never meant to offend with his comments.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has today corrected the Dáil record and apologised for comments he made to Micheál Martin in the Dáil likening him to a priest sinning “behind the altar”.

Last week, Martin questioned Varadkar on about the potential for overspending on the Dunkettle Interchange and other similar projects.

He said he has been met with “obfuscation after obfuscation” when looking for clarity on the project and he asked Varadkar to provide it.

“I appeal to him not to be petty, silly and idiotic in terms of his response,” said Martin.

In response, the Taoiseach made the comparison with a priest engaging in sin “behind the altar”.

“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 Taoiseach said.

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.

Speaking to reporters last week, Varadkar said he made the comments yesterday in the “heat of the debate” in the Dáil, adding that it was a rather “bitter” and “personal” debate on both sides. 

In the Dáil today, Varadkar stood up before Taoiseach’s Questions and withdrew his comments, stating: 

“I made some remarks in relation to sinning priests this time last week on Leaders Questions. They caused offence to people that I never intended to offend. 

“I wish to apologise to anyone I offended, including the Deputy, and to withdraw the remarks.”

His comments today followed on from his apology last week in which he said he did not wish to offend anyone. 

Apology

“In doing so I offended a lot of people who I never intended to offend. I am sorry for that. I do apologise and I am going to withdraw the remarks,” he said last week.

When asked about what the remarks meant, the Taoiseach said he was “talking about the sin of hypocrisy, but I am not here to explain, I am here to apologise and withdraw it,” he added. 

I am making it here now to anyone I offended, like I say this was something that was said in the head of a political debate, one that got quite bitter and quite personal on both sides and as a consequence I offended people who I never intended to offend, and I want to apologise for that and withdraw it.
I have immense respect for priests and the sacrifice that the live really in the lives that they lead really and I have immense respect for people of faith. It didn’t come out the way I intended it.

The Taoiseach said he “absolutely” has respect for the Catholic Church, adding that today’s meeting, where he is meeting with the church leaders of many religions in Dublin Castle, is an example of that. 

With reporting from Adam Daly 

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