Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said he does not agree with one of his party colleague’s comments about “lazy public servants”.
Fianna Fail TD Marc MacSharry alleged State employees were using the pandemic as an excuse to “lie on the couch and watch box sets”.
Mr MacSharry doubled down on his comments during a radio interview on Thursday, and said people should not have to put up with “mediocrity dressed up as efficiency”.
Ireland’s largest trade union Siptu called on Mr MacSharry to apologise and withdraw his remarks.
The union said its members have expressed “anger, disappointment and hurt” at his comments, which they have described as “outrageous”.
Mr Martin was asked on Friday about Mr MacSharry’s remarks but stopped short of calling for him to withdraw them.
He said: “My longstanding political philosophy has always been around the need to have a strong public service and to invest in a strong public service. I don’t agree with Marc’s position on this at all.
â Our members are demanding Deputy MacSharry withdraws his comments and puts an end to this kind of misleading rhetoric that only serves to divide public and private sector workers at a time when the recovery of the country requires unity and solidarity. #FrontLineHeroes pic.twitter.com/gyrwoF4GHN— SIPTU (@SIPTU) July 31, 2020
“Sometimes I would have been criticised in the past through various partnership agreements we had as a party and policy around the public service. But never did the concept of a strong, independent public service emerge so tellingly than in this crisis, be it in health or right across the board.
“Public servants have been flat-out since the beginning of the crisis dealing with every latest iteration of it and I think that is the strength of our public service and that it is something that we should celebrate.”
On Thursday, the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants (AHCPS) called for the remarks to be withdrawn, stating that they were “ill-informed and ill-considered”.
Sinn Fein housing TD Eoin O Broin said he has written to Mr Martin about the comments, which he described as “wrong, offensive and divisive”.