Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry has said he was "beyond disgust and depression" at how Taoiseach Micheál Martin dealt with the fall-out from revelations that Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had leaked of a confidential document.

During a heated exchange at the party's parliamentary party meeting Mr MacSharry is believed to have said there was "palpable" membership anger across the country at Mr Varadkar's actions, but he accused Mr Martin of acting as "the chief flag-flier for Leo."

He claimed that Mr Martin had "dragged" the party to 11% in the opinion polls and he needed to accept the reality that he was "part of the problem."

It's understood that the Taoiseach said he had always been crystal clear that the Tánaiste's actions were "wrong"; Fianna Fáil was "not accountable" for the actions of the last government; and he personally takes "a longer term view" on such issues. 

Yet when Mr Martin said he "took exception" to the "personalised nature" of the critique, deputy MacSharry interjected saying: "There is nothing personal about it. You are the leader of the party. If you can't take it, then you shouldn't be leading the party."

The ten minute exchange, part of a two hour meeting, was later described by some of the Fianna Fáil TDs, Senators and MEPs as a "car-crash", "brutal" and "a full frontal attack with a gatling gun".

Some members of the parliamentary party were highly critical of deputy MacSharry afterwards, with one saying his performance was "disgraceful, over-the-top and totally unnecessary" with another saying it was "a mad-man rant that Trump would have been proud of".

There was other criticism from Fianna Fail backbenchers, described by one member of the parliamentary party as "hard hitting" but "measured."

Tipperary TD Jackie Cahill expressed concern that the party was being viewed as having battled "for Leo".

Former Agriculture Minister Barry Cowen contrasted the treatment of Leo Varadkar with his own position - claiming he didn't get "due process".

He was also highly critical of the media for creating a culture where resignations were constantly being sought.

John McGuinness was also said to be critical of how the party dealt with Leo Varadkar.

Before the row, the Taoiseach made it clear that Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions will remain in place for the full 6 week term. He added that the infection rate before Level 5, at more than 1,000 a day, was "very high" and consequently the restrictions "will go to 6 weeks".

The majority of the meeting was focused on Fianna Fáil legislative plans in areas such as social media, hate crime and how to deal with a Court of Appeal ruling that a dead child cannot be identified when someone is charged with killing them.

Meanwhile at a meeting of the Fine Gael par;iamentary party, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar indicated that Ireland was going to have to live with the 6-week Level 5 restrictions and stick it out.

He also reportedly told his party's TDs, Senators and MEPs that the US democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden had a "genuine" interest in Ireland, and this could be of benefit in the context of Brexit, if he was elected.

Addressing yesterday's Dáil row over the leaking of a confidential document, the Tánaiste is believed to have warned his colleagues that they should be careful who their friends were as politics could be very dirty. 


Varadkar apologises for 'errors of judgement' over leak
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Earlier, Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald accused Tánaiste Leo Varadkar of providing a dig out to a friend when he passed on a confidential document to the head of The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) last year.

She said Maitiú Ó Tuathail's organisation was in freefall and he needed help from his friend, the Tánaiste.

Ms McDonald described the episode as the politics of the "cosy club" and she insisted the story was not over.

She stated that Mr Varadkar's alibi had been dismantled and accused Fine Gael ministers of misleading the public in their defence of the Tánaiste.

Ms McDonald repeated her call for the publication of all correspondence between the Department of An Taoiseach and the NAGP.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Tánaiste had addressed the issue and has accepted his actions were an error in judgement.

Mr Martin said the matter had been dealt with at some length by the Tánaiste and he had apologised.

He said Sinn Féin should realise that the high moral ground is a dangerous place to be in.

The Rural Independents Group has this evening formally requested the Dáil Committee on Procedure to investigate if the Tánaiste broke any codes of conduct for TDs or Office Holders.

Also speaking in the Dáíl, co-leader of the Social Democrats Roisin Shortall called for a review of the Code of Conduct for Office Holders following the controversy.

Ms Shortall said the code says office holders should respect confidences entrusted in them.  

She said: "Clearly the Tánaiste did not do that ... the past few days have been damaging to Government and politics."

Ms Shortall added there had been the "spectacle of senior member of Government exposed" and she added it was "a grubby activity for grubby purposes".

In response, the Taosieach said there was an obligation on all members to adhere to the code of conduct.  

He added he had made it very clear what the Tánaiste did was not best practice and was wrong.

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Additional reporting Mícheál Lehane