THE DÁIL descended into chaos last night after a TD launched a furious tirade against Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was facing Leaders Questions when the discussion veered from Level 3 restrictions to the potential for a cataract clinic in Cork.
Independent TD Michael Collins raised the issue of constituents in both Cork and Kerry being unable to receive treatment for cataracts, and stated that both himself and Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae had organised for elderly people to receive procedures in Belfast.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin, smiling, responded he had been "reliably informed" that one of the Healy-Rae brothers had "approached people outside mass to say 'I can get you on the bus if you want a cataract'", and suggested the TD had done so in order to benefit in the elections.
The Taoiseach was interrupted by a furious Michael Healy-Rae, who stood up from his seat, shouting "You should take that back!"
"I was reliably informed that Deputy Healy-Rae approached people outside a mass to say I can get you on the bus if you want a cataract [procedure]"
"You should take that back! You're a disgrace!"@MichealMartinTD and @MHealyRae clash in the Dáil
More: https://t.co/TwPYcj6gS7 pic.twitter.com/hEirzW77Fb
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 6, 2020
"You're a disgrace!", the Kerry TD roared. "You're only in the bottom of the barrel now coming out with that sort of statement. Cop on a small bit Taoiseach!"
Mr Healy-Rae's microphone was cut off but he continued shouting, and the Taoiseach waved a hand and told him, "Ahh, relax, relax".
"God damn it, that is an awful thing to say," Healy-Rae continued. "Smirking and laughing as if it's all a bit of a joke, you wouldn't be laughing if someone belonging to you was going blind!"
"Ah come on, calm down," Taoiseach Micheál Martin replied again.
The Taoiseach later apologised for causing offence, but maintained a local clinician had told him the story which sparked Mr Healy-Rae's anger.
A video of the furious exchange has gone viral on social media, with the clip posted by RTÉ having been viewed more than half a million times.
Michael Healy-Rae commented underneath the clip with a video of Kerry constituent Michael Griffin, who had to travel to Northern Ireland to receive treatment for cataracts, and said the Taoiseach "made a mockery of people like Michael Griffin".
"We never claim to fund these operations," Mr Healy-Rae said.
"Rather we make it possible for people like Michael to show up on the day, walk on the bus and have nothing to worry about."