Taoiseach Enda Kenny has clarified that he did not expressly raise the issue of women's rights when on a trade mission to Saudi Arabia in 2014 contrary to what he had indicated yesterday.
Speaking to reporters in Toronto today, where he is on a three-day visit, Enda Kenny said that he had raised "the issue of human rights with the Saudi Arabian authorities which obviously includes women's rights".
At a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday, Mr Kenny was asked by RTÉ News, on behalf of the travelling media pool, to reveal how Ireland had voted in the appointment of Saudi Arabia to a seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
Enda Kenny clarifies that he did not expressly raise the issue of women's rights in Saudi Arabia, contrary to what he indicated yesterday pic.twitter.com/tCocqzF6Cb— RTÉ News (@rtenews) May 5, 2017
He refused twice to do so, but did say that he had "raised the question of women rights with the Saudi Arabians when I was there myself a number of years ago on a trade mission".
However the Dáil record from the time shows the Taoiseach told Opposition deputies that the subject was not discussed.
Today, Mr Kenny said that he, in fact, just raised the issue of "human rights" and had not expressly raised women's rights.
He added that Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan had specifically raised the issue of women's rights at Foreign Affairs Council of Ministers meetings.
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The Taoiseach led a trade mission to Saudi Arabia in January 2014 - a trip which led to the signing of €65m in contracts, and the creation of 95 jobs.
In the Dáil that April, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin questioned the Taoiseach about whether he raised the issue of women's rights during his time in the kingdom.
In his reply, Mr Kenny told the Dáil that while he did raise the issue of human rights the question of women's rights was not specifically discussed.
Kenny does not say when he will step down as leader
Mr Kenny has said that he is still planning to step down as leader of Fine Gael although he has not yet given a specific date for his departure.
He said that he would not discuss the issue of the leadership when on a trade and investment mission to Canada.
He said that "matters of Fine Gael are internal to Fine Gael", and he did not intend to discuss the question of "the leadership or the future of the Fine Gael party when on a trade or investment mission to Canada".
Asked if he had changed his mind and was perhaps thinking of staying on he said: "No, I've been very clear with my parliamentary party about this."
Despite becoming agitated when asked by the Irish media at the joint press conference with Mr Trudeau yesterday about his plans to leave, Mr Kenny said he had not taken "umbrage" at the questions.
But said the purpose of the visit was trade and investment and he would not be discussing "anything to do with leadership".