Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

'Lapgate' TD Tom Barry slams heavy drinking claims

Tom Barry is 'shattered' by the controversy
Tom Barry is 'shattered' by the controversy

An Irish politician who pulled a female colleague on to his lap during a Dail abortion debate has rejected as "absolute lies" suggestions he had engaged in a heavy drinking session earlier in a Dublin pub.

Fine Gael TD Tom Barry said he was "shattered" by the storm of controversy his actions in the Dail chamber early last Thursday morning had generated for Aine Collins FG (TD), his family, his colleagues and party.

Mr Barry declined to comment further, saying he did not want to detract from his apology to his colleague.

"I want to draw a line under it as best I can. I am deeply sorry for my actions and I have apologised to everyone involved. The party has taken action and I can only repeat that what I did was stupid, naive and totally inappropriate," he added.

However, Mr Barry specifically denied claims that he had been drinking spirits in a Dublin city centre pub before the incident which occurred at 2.40am.

"(They are) absolute lies. I was not (drinking spirits). I had two pints with relatives after a meal earlier in the evening. I (later) went into the Dail bar but I wasn't drinking excessively. There was nothing premeditated, it was just stupid and disrespectful," Mr Barry said.

Mr Barry attended the Dail before meeting up with relatives on Wednesday evening to go out for a meal.

The group then went to The Gingerman Pub on Fenian Street where Mr Barry had two pints.

He then left the group to return to the Dail. During the voting on the abortion legislation Mr Barry joined a number of other TDs for breaks in the Dail bar several of which involved drinking coffee.

The incident where he pulled Ms Collins on to his lap was captured by Dail TV cameras and has since gone viral on the internet.

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