The Taoiseach has apologised in the Dáil for his remarks last week where he compared Fianna Fáil leader  Micheál Martin to a priest who sins "behind the alter".

"They caused offence to people I never intended to offend. I wish to apologise to anyone whom I offended, including the deputy and to withdraw the remarks," Mr Varadkar said today.

He made the controversial comments during a Dáil debate last week about overspending on some projects in the National Development Plan.

He later apologised over the remarks as he attended a meeting of church leaders and faith communities in Dublin Castle.

"I have tremendous respect for priests, for the sacrifice that they give in the lives that they lead. And I have tremendous respect for people of faith. You know it didn't come out the way I intended it and sometimes these things happen."

This evening, Micheál Martin said he accepted the Taoiseach's apology. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime programme, Deputy Martin said many people across the country had been offended by the remarks. 

However, he said he accepted the apology and was glad the remark had been withdrawn.