Saturday 23 February 2019

'Taoiseach's trial remarks were mind-blowing', says Howlin

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

Comments about the Belfast rape case made on live radio by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during the trial have been described as "mind-blowing" by Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin.

The former minister said politicians should know better than to reference an active trial, especially one so high profile.

Mr Varadkar sought legal advice after an appearance on Newstalk's Pat Kenny programme on March 9.

The presenter was forced to interrupt the Taoiseach on two occasions as he brought up "a certain trial happening in Belfast" during a discussion on the abortion referendum.

Mr Varadkar was attempting to make the point that introducing rape as a specific grounds for abortion would not be workable, as it would require some form of process to prove an attack had happened.

Referencing the Belfast case, he said: "Can you imagine putting women through something like that, or anything even vaguely approaching that?"

He added that in order to avoid "re-victimising" a woman, the Government would propose to make abortion legal without specific grounds up to 12 weeks.

Mr Howlin said that anybody making such public commentary during a trial is bad.


"For the Taoiseach it is quite mind-blowing that any comment would be made about an ongoing trial," he said.

"To say it's unfortunate is to put it mildly."

Labour leader Brendan Howlin criticised the Taoiseach
Labour leader Brendan Howlin criticised the Taoiseach

Although the trial was being held in a different jurisdiction, Mr Howlin added: "If you say something on any broadcast media, whether it's social media or a radio station, you assume it's broadcast to the world."

However, the former public expenditure minister revealed he also had to reprimand one of his own senators for a social media post made shortly after the jury acquitted Ireland rugby internationals Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

Aodhan O Riordain tweeted his own views on the outcome, including a reference to "smug well-connected middle class boys".

Mr O Riordain's tweet was quickly deleted - but not before it was reposted hundreds of times.

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