Donohoe backs Varadkar following Merrion Hotel row

The Minister for Finance confirmed that he was invited to the party in the Merrion Hotel.
Donohoe backs Varadkar following Merrion Hotel row

By Dominic McGrath, PA

Paschal Donohoe has said that his party leader Leo Varadkar has his full backing, following on from the Merrion Hotel controversy.

Speaking at Government Buildings on Tuesday, the Minister for Finance said: “I apologise for the annoyance and the difficulty that I know was created around the event.

“I unequivocally and absolutely support the Tánaiste in the work he’s doing.

“I absolutely accept the explanations he has given.”

Last week, Mr Varadkar apologised for attending the controversial event hosted by former minister Katherine Zappone.

He said he regretted going to the private reception, but insisted that it was not in breach of Government guidelines.

Katherine Zappone
Former minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

New guidelines for the hospitality industry published on Friday mean 200 people can gather at an outdoor event with live music.

The change came in the wake of a scandal caused by Ms Zappone, when she organised a private party six days before she was nominated as a UN envoy.

The event was held at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin and was attended by 50 people, including friends and former Government colleagues, among them Mr Varadkar.

Mr Donohoe confirmed that he was invited to the event, but said he did not know if all Cabinet ministers were invited. He said that he was travelling on Government business at the time of the party.

“If I had been around, I would have asked questions in relation to public health guidelines and so on,” he said.

On Monday, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the Tánaiste’s attendance at the event “undermined public confidence”.

Labour TD Ivana Bacik also apologised for attending the party.

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