Politicians should ‘lead by example’, says Leo Varadkar

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has said politicians should “lead by example”.

Mr Varadkar was speaking in Dublin as Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill faced calls to quit over her attendance at a large funeral for IRA veteran Bobby Storey.

Ms O’Neill has insisted that her actions were in line with social distancing, but four out of the five parties in the Stormont Executive have urged her to step aside.

Mr Varadkar said he saw a “huge contrast” in the behaviour of Sinn Fein politicians with those of Taoiseach Micheal Martin, whose family were unable to travel to Cork to be with him as he became Ireland’s premier last weekend.

“I think it is important that politicians try to lead by example – there are rules and regulations that we make and we expect others to stick to them,” Mr Varadkar said.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, left to right, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill arrive for the funeral (Liam McBurney/PA)</figcaption>
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, left to right, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill arrive for the funeral (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I don’t want to comment on a funeral because you know, ultimately it was a funeral and I think we need to respect that.

“I do think there was a huge contrast between what we saw last Saturday where Micheal Martin became Taoiseach and his family couldn’t travel up from Cork to be with him.

“In contrast, Michelle O’Neill turned up for a photo op. It does show a different attitude. Sinn Fein is different to other parties and not in a good way.”