LEO VARADKAR has been criticised for politicising an incident which left a homeless man seriously injured in Dublin on Wednesday.
Dublin City Council and Waterways Ireland workers reportedly used an 'industrial vehicle' to forcibly remove a homeless man's tent from the side of a footpath during a clean up operation along the Grand Canal.
What they didn't realise was that the man was still inside the tent when the removal process began, and sustained life-changing injuries as a result.
It's alleged that the tent was lifted by a lorry with a claw, which only stopped when screams were heard by passing members of the public, who then alerted the council workers.
The man was rushed to the intensive care unit at St Vincent's University Hospital where he remains in a serious but stable condition.
It's understood that his leg was paralysed.
The Taoiseach was asked about the accident at the Fine Gael election campaign launch at the Combilift factory in Monaghan on Wednesday night and appeared to try and shift the blame to Fianna Fáil's Dublin Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe.
"The [homeless] man was offered accommodation previously," he said, before saying that the incident was "the responsibility of Dublin City Council.
"The Lord Mayor should make a statement," he added.
His response sparked outrage among many who felt his comments were needlessly 'politicising' the unfortunate issue.
Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Darragh O'Brien said he was "taken aback and pretty disgusted" by the remarks.
"The Taoiseach has stooped to a new low by trying to use this tragic event to have a pop at Paul McAuliffe," he said.
"It's pathetic and beneath the office he holds. He has totally politicised it. He has used this tragedy as an opportunity to have a go at others.
"This is what they do in Fine Gael. It's a ridiculous, outrageous politicisation and they should be ashamed of themselves."
Varadkar meanwhile denies that he was trying to turn the situation into a political matter, instead insisting that his response was intended to express concern and sympathy.
"I've never sought to make it [homelessness] a party political issue and I think if anything we've been on the receiving end of that rather the perpetrators of it," he said.