LEO VARADKAR has hit back at the criticism he received after being photographed last weekend enjoying a picnic with friends in Phoenix Park during lockdown.
Under government rules, groups of four are permitted to meet outside, though they cannot travel further than 5km from their homes and must remain two metres apart from anyone they are not residing with.
The pictures drew an angry reaction in some quarters, with Mr. Varadkar accused of failing to stick to the rules on distancing and being more than 5km from his home.
A spokesperson for the Taoiseach defended his actions, explaining the Fine Gael leader has been living in the Steward's Lodge on the Farmleigh Estate in the Phoenix Park with his partner Matthew Barrett during the lockdown.
They also rebuffed any suggestion he broke the two-metre distancing rule.
Now Mr. Varadkar has spoken out on the subject, rebuffing any criticism by telling Dublin’s FM104 that “you have to live your life”.
Speaking on the station’s Strawberry Alarm Clock show, Mr. Varadkar said: "Unfortunately there are camera phones anywhere there are people these days, but that's the way it is.
"You have to live your life. And if you're afraid of photographs you'd never go out."
The comments come ahead of what is expected to be a busy Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland, with temperatures expected to hit the mid-20s.
And the Taoiseach is keen for the public to enjoy the good weather, while keeping to the rules in much the same way he believes he did.
Mr. Varadkar said: "It is ok for people to enjoy the weather, to get out, get some exercise - meet some friends and family outdoors - obviously not in anything more than a group of four and to try as much as possible to keep that two metre distance."
He added: "The basic message is still stay at home but there are five exceptions and one of those is getting some exercise and getting out in the fresh air and the good weather if people can.
"Obviously wear sun screen if you're going to be out in the sun."
Mary Lou McDonald was among those to criticise the Taoiseach’s actions, calling for more clarity on the lockdown rules during an interview with Radio Kerry.
"I did understand that the advice was not to have picnics," the Sinn Féin leader said.
"I know they are having picnics."
"I just take the general view that for the head of government, for anyone in elected office, y'know, you need to add clarity, and not confusion."