Taoiseach should reflect on ‘priest’ remark and “come back with something more generous”, Senator Mullen says

Senator Rónán Mullen today challenged the Taoiseach, Mr Varadkar, to reflect on comments he made in the Dáil yesterday in which he compared Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to a hypocritical priest.

Speaking on the Order of Business, Senator Mullen said it was “not acceptable, at this moment in our history when clergy are fewer and older but continue to do good work, to make a mocking, stigmatising remark like that, whether for its own sake or in order to attack a political opponent.”

If somebody made a “similarly stigmatising throwaway remark about gay community leaders or spokespersons for the travelling community, they would be rightly criticised,” he said.

Senator Mullen noted that “some clergy and religious are now targeted for abuse on social media and in the street, and that the worst elements of Irish society are seizing on past scandals involving the guilty to inflict current pain on the innocent.”

“So if he is mindful of this context, why would the Taoiseach invoke a trope, a stereotype of a hypocritical, sinning priest? At best, it is a decision to play to a very unpleasant gallery of anticlerical people. At worse, it might be the expression of some deep-seated hidden dislike on his part.”

“I hope the Taoiseach will reflect on his remarks and come back with something more generous,” he concluded.