‘You have to stand up to bullies’ – Leo Varadkar defends Pierce Doherty scandal, says it was ‘self-defense’

Tanaist Leo Varadkar defended his quarrel with Dyle with Pierce Doherty, saying it was “self-defense”.

He has said about his mental health that he “has to snap back from time to time” and “you have to stand up to bullies.”

In the chamber last week, Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman cited allegations of corruption against Mr Varadkar that are being considered by the DPP.

Mr. Varadkar immediately hit back, accusing Donegal TD of a “very personal cheap punch”, which he said said a lot about his character.

Tánaiste accused Mr. Doherty of “abuse and mistreatment” of the guards, which led to his arrest and prosecution.

Speaking today, Mr. Varadkar said he would not have called the exchange a “fall out” and that it was “self-defence.”

“I won’t go into details, but in my opinion it was self-defence,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

“Sinn Féin – whether it’s their supporters on the Internet, or their supporters on the streets, or their politicians in the Dáil – are constantly trying to attack us in person, intimidate us and belittle us on government benches.

“I think the way they try to demonize their political opponents is to show that they care about people more than us.

“It all started, let’s not forget, with Piers Doherty claiming my party was out of touch because the night before I was eating steak and chips with Jimmy Dinihan at the members’ restaurant — without any public money.

“However, they can go on their exotic fundraising trips around the world and drink champagne and they don’t get along with normal people at all.

“When you have to listen to stuff like this day in and day out – I think even for your own mental health, you have to snap from time to time.”

In response to Tánaiste, Mr. Doherty said on RTÉ today Today with Claire Byrne: “Well firstly I want to be clear that I have no convictions, Leo Varadkar is a man who is under tremendous pressure, we can hear that from his discussion of the cost of living earlier.

“But he mentioned something that happened a quarter of a century ago, it was a verbal altercation with the guards, and I have no convictions.”

He added that he thinks what Mr. Varadkar said about him in the Dail was “very well rehearsed”.

Speaking on the same show, Fine Gael’s Colm Brophy defended his party leader and said Mr. Doherty was “large enough” to expect such a reaction from Tánaiste after he raised the DPP investigation.

“If you want to go down this path, you are big and brave enough to get an answer, and you got a response from Tánaiste, you made a comment that you shouldn’t have made,” he said.

Mr. Brophy added that Mr. Doherty is “a master of flippancy” and he did not fully explain what he said on the Dail.

The deputy leader of Sinn Féin responded, “I asked him to be a little more humble about who the DPP is currently investigating, that’s what I said after.”

Speaking previously on RTÉ Radio 1 Morning IrelandMr Varadkar said he would like Senator Lynn Ruan to say that what Mr Doherty said about him was “unfair” after she said no one should be shamed for the mistakes of the past.

“I know what she is saying, I am a supporter of the probation law. I was Taoiseach when we introduced it so that people can move on if they have been convicted in the past,” he said.

“But I think it lacked context, I would love to hear her say that what Pierce said about me was also unfair and that everyone has a right to due process and the benefit of the doubt and she didn’t say that.” and I hope she does. “.