Belfast Telegraph

Leo Varadkar apologises to Dail over ‘sinning priest’ remarks

The comments were made during a leaders’ debate on the national development plan last week.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar apologised to the Dail after he made remarks about a sinning priest (PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar apologised to the Dail after he made remarks about a sinning priest (PA)

The Irish premier has apologised to the State’s parliament for comments he made last week in which he compared the opposition leader to a “sinning priest”.

Leo Varadkar told the Dail that he offended people he never intended to offend.

The comments were made during a leaders’ debate on the national development plan last week, when Mr Varadkar compared Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin to a priest “who preaches from the altar, telling us to avoid sin while secretly going behind the altar and engaging in any amount of sin himself”.

I want to apologise to anyone I offended. Leo Varadkar

Speaking in the Dail on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar said: “I made some remarks in relation to sinning priests this time last week during Leaders’ questions. They caused offence to people I never intended to offend.

“I want to apologise to anyone I offended, including the deputy and want to withdraw the remarks.”

He also apologised last week at Dublin Castle ahead of a plenary meeting with churches and faith communities.

The Fine Gael leader said: “Yeah, look I said something in the heat of debate in the Dail yesterday.

“It was a rather bitter and personal debate on both sides, but 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.

“I was talking about the sin of hypocrisy but I’m not here to explain, I’m here to apologise and withdraw.

“I have immense respect for priests and the sacrifice they give in the lives they lead and I have immense respect for people of faith, and it didn’t come out the way I intended it.”

Mr Martin accused the Taoiseach of being “petty, silly and idiotic” in the Dail debate.

Mr Varakdar has received criticism from religious figures over his remarks.

Alphonsus Cullinane, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, said that he found them to be “very hurtful, unfortunate comments”.

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