Irish PM Leo Varadkar slammed for using sex abuse scandal to ‘score points’ against Sinn Féin

Irish PM Leo Varadkar slammed for using sex abuse scandal to ‘score points’ against Sinn Féin

SINN Féin have accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of using the ongoing sex abuse storm in politics to “score points” against his opposition in the Dáil.

It comes after Mr Varadkar took aim at Sinn Féin when asked whether he believes Leinster House is a “safe working environment” in an interview with TV3.

Speaking to 3NewsIreland’s political correspondent Gavan Reilly, the Taoiseach said: “From my experiences, yes.

“But that's not to say there isn't a macho culture or behaviour on occasion, in the Oireachtas. There certainly is.

"I've spoken myself in the past about how very often when you're trying to conduct normal business in the Dáil, you're interrupted and shouted down constantly.

"But that's largely perpetrated by the men and women of Sinn Féin and the left, rather than men specifically."

Those comments have enraged Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald, who said the Taoiseach’s comments were “a typically scripted attack”.

“Political pot shots on an issue as serious as gender based abuse in the workplace cheapen the office of An Taoiseach,” she said.

“This is a typically scripted attack from Leo Varadkar’s spin machine.

“Women across the political spectrum will take no lectures from a Taoiseach that has failed to even support the women in his own party.

“Let’s not forget just one in five of the Ministers and Ministers of State appointed by Leo Varadkar are women.

“These are very serious issues and it is disgraceful that the Taoiseach would view such matters through the prism of political advantage.”

She added: “This is not the first time that the Taoiseach has sought to play to his gallery when matters of significance are raised with him.

“It happens day and daily. Women inside and outside the Dáil deserve more from the head of Government”.

Mr Varadkar’s interview came after reports this weekend of allegations of bullying and inappropriate behaviour at Dublin’s Gate Theatre.

Several women have come forward with allegations against the theatre’s former artistic director, Michael Colgan.

Mr Colgan has said he will respond to the allegations shortly.

Speaking in the same interview, Mr Varadkar said that he believes “allegations are allegations and they should be taken seriously – but we shouldn’t always assume they’re true.

“That’s why they need to be investigated first.”

He added: “I think we need to bear in mind that all forms of inappropriate behaviour or boorish behaviour or obnoxious behaviour don’t necessarily constitute systemic bullying or sexual assault.”