Leo Varadkar admits he 'messed up' in planned RIC commemorations

Leo Varadkar admits he 'messed up' in planned RIC commemorations

LEO VARADKAR has admitted that the government's plans to commemorate the Royal Irish Constabulary were a mistake.

The Taoiseach was appearing on a 7-way leaders' debate on Virgin Media One when the question was put to him by co-host Ivan Yates.

Addressing Mr Varadkar, Mr Yates asked the Fine Gael leader :

""Leo, do you accept that you really messed up with the RIC commemoration plans?"

Mr Varadkar replied: "Yes. Obviously, what was planned became divisive and became a matter of political contention and that's why the right decision was taken to cancel it.

"And I think the lesson is learned that the commemorations that happened in 2016, 2017 and 2018 worked very well," he continued.

"They worked well because they happened on the basis that there was cross-party support for them and I wouldn't go ahead with any other commemorations unless there is cross-party support for them."

He stressed again that the planned event was not in any way meant to commemorate the Black and Tans, saying that this was a "misrepresentation".

The reply is a slight change of tone in the party leader, who, along with Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, had previously and consistently said that the commemorations would be the right thing to do.

Before the commemoration was cancelled due to backlash, Mr Varadkar had said it was "regrettable" that people were unhappy but that the event would continue, saying:

"I think it's a shame that people are boycotting it but the government stands over the decision to uphold the event."

Mr Varadkar appeared on the leaders' debate alongside Mícheál Martin, Mary Lou McDonald, Brendan Howlin, Mick Barry, Eamon Ryan and Catherine Murphy.