Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil that "tax offences and tax crimes are serious crimes" as he faced questions about what was termed Michael Lowry's "chicken feed fine" by one opposition TD.

"When somebody commits a tax offence, they are not just taking money from one person, they are taking money from all of society," Mr Varadkar said. 

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger raised concerns about what she described in the Dáil as a "chicken feed fine" imposed on Independent TD Michael Lowry in the courts yesterday.

The Dublin West TD said: "A member of the Dáil was sentenced for filing a false tax return, failing to keep proper company accounts, falsifying accounts and yet he received a chicken feed fine in the context of his wealth and a pat on the back from the judge, rather than a rap on knuckles, saying he was a great TD."

She claimed there is "one law for the rich and another for the poor and that is the conclusion of workers all around the country following this case".

Leas Ceann Comhairle Pat The Cope Gallagher warned Ms Coppinger about making reference to court judgments. 

Mr Varadkar responded to his constituency colleague by saying "tax offences and tax crimes are serious crimes in my view and the view of Government.

"When somebody commits a tax offence, they are not just taking money from one person, they are taking money from all society.

"And in this case, the case of Deputy Lowry, he got a fair trial and the result of that there was a conviction and a barring from holding directorships and also a fine.

"But it is for the courts to hear cases and make those decisions. We are a democracy. We are not the people's socialist republic, where politicians overrule judges. We are not going to do that."

Earlier, the Taoiseach said the Government had no formal agreement, written or verbal, with independent TDs such as Mr Lowry and "there is nothing to publish and nothing to hide".

He was responding to questions from Fianna Fáil Leader Mícheál Martin.

Mr Martin said the Taoiseach is always at pains to say there is no written agreement with Mr Lowry, Seán Canney and the Government, "but there is certainly constant contact and the assistance provided for their constituencies is never discussed publicly".

Mr Varadkar said: "There is nothing to publish and nothing to hide. We have no formal agreement, written or verbal, with any independent TD. 

"However, there are several independent TDs who generally support the Government. And because they generally support the Government, we are happy for them to raise with ministers, constituency issues or policy issues and if we can work on them we do and if we can't, we can't."

He said that Mr Lowry has voted against the Government on ten occasions over the last two years, not voting at all on 71, and with the Government on 89.