Sinn Fein contains a “huge number of convicted criminals” including tax dodgers and murderers, Ireland’s deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar has said during a heated row in the country’s parliament.
The exchange developed when Mr Varadka and Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty were debating the cost of living.
Mr Pearse, Sinn Fein’s finance spokesman, claimed the deputy PM was “out of touch” on the matter.
Mr Pearse added that Mr Varadkar should be “more humble” given that the Director of Public Prosecutions is investigating his leaking of a confidential government document.
But Mr Varadkar said that was a “cheap shot” and went on to accuse Sinn Fein of being a “hypocritical party” that “receives millions of donations from vagabonds who live in a caravan”.
However, he first took aim at Mr Doherty’s personal history.
“It says a lot about you, and the nature and the character of kind of person you are and it’s particularly strange coming from you because you were prosecuted,” Mr Varadkar said.
“You abused, mistreated an Garda Siochana (police officer).
“For that you were prosecuted, you were found guilty. Yes, you got away without a conviction because of your age at the time.
“But you were actually prosecuted, you were arrested. That’s what happened to you.”
Mr Varadkar, who leads the Fine Gael party, then moved on to Sinn Fein.
“There are a huge number of convicted criminals in your party and in your wider republican family, whether that is tax dodgers like Slab Murphy, a good republican, according to Mary Lou McDonald, a good republican, a tax dodger. People who were convicted for murder.”
Mr Varadkar added: “We know what your party’s attitude is to rape and paedophiles and what you’ve done in relation to that. So your cheap shots say a lot more about you than they do about me.”
Mr Pearse also referenced a dinner hosted by Mr Varadkar on Wednesday.
The deputy prime minister said that was another “cheap shot”.
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He said: “I hosted a dinner last night to thank colleagues for their years of service and there was no public money involved.
“You host dinners in America. You charge people $1,000 a plate to attend and your party leader flies first class to get there.
“That’s what you do in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and I believe she (Mary Lou McDonald) is about to announce another first-class trip to Australia, which she should be undertaking in the next couple of weeks where she’ll be clinking champagne glasses with the Trinity alumni in Australia and meeting the Australian Business Association.”
Mr Varadkar went on: “So that’s a cheap shot, particularly coming from a hypocritical party like yours, a party that receives millions of donations from vagabonds who live in a caravan.
“A party that is one of the biggest landlords in the state and a person who operates his constituency office using public money from some sort of republican company.
“So cheap shots, particularly coming from you, should be seen as what they are from the Irish people.”