Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he regrets attending an event held last month at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin, but has said it was not in breach of Government regulations, and "probably" not in breach of Fáilte Ireland guidelines.
Speaking on RTÉ's Six One, Mr Varadkar said: "I want to express my regret at the fact I attended that event that has led to this controversy. I want to say sorry to the hospitality sector in particular.
"They're struggling to get open again and it doesn’t help them that guidelines are changing and they’re unclear at times.
"And also to any members of the public who are confused about what the rules are. Because I know most try to stick to the rules and when there's confusion that makes it harder for people."
Mr Varadkar said that the event was "not in breach of Government regulations in place at the time" and "probably not in breach of Fáilte Ireland guidelines".
There was no live music at the event, he said.
Tánaiste @LeoVaradkar tells RTÉ News an event he attended at Dublin's Merrion Hotel hosted by former minister Katherine Zappone was 'not in breach of Government regulations in place at the time' and 'probably not in breach of Fáilte Ireland guidelines' | https://t.co/0AOoiZ3Wgt pic.twitter.com/vfF4KZmW4L— RTÉ News (@rtenews) August 6, 2021
Mr Varadkar said there will be "anomalies and inconsistencies" as the Government reopens society.
He said it was important that the guidelines had now been clarified - adding they had been updated twice since the Merrion Hotel event, but "not because of the event".
The Tánaiste said guidelines are updated regularly. "The reasons why they are changed [can be due] to public health advice."
"I don't believe the guidelines were breached but I do accept that they were ambiguous and open to interpretation," he added.
He said it can be confusing for people, and that he had "triple checked" the advice himself before attending the event and had "probably let his guard down".
He added that he "hopes" he did not undermine public health advice.
Mr Varadkar apologised to the hospitality industry, saying the last thing they need is a lack of clarity.
We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences
Meanwhile, Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association of Ireland said the apology from the Tánaiste "is welcome".
He added: "Restaurants, pubs and hotels have lost a huge amount of revenue because of the miscommunication regarding guidelines."
Earlier today, the Government said it is to review how it appoints UN special envoys in the wake of the controversy over the appointment of Katherine Zappone.
The former Minister for Children later turned down the envoy role.
The Government today said it intends to publish a road map by the end of this month for the easing or ending of remaining Covid-19 restrictions.
In a statement, it also revealed plans to write to senior church leaders to outline plans to allow communions and confirmations to take place in September.
It comes as the latest Government advice on weddings is updated in the Fáilte Ireland guidelines for hotels and guest houses.
The guidelines, which imply there can be music at a wedding reception as long as it's outside, state that venues can now cater for a maximum of 200 people.