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apology 'I probably let my guard down' says Tánaiste Leo Varadkar about Merrion Hotel bash 

I want to express my regret at the fact I attended that event and that it’s led to this controversy,” he said on RTÉ News yesterday evening

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the controversial bash in the Merrion Hotel “probably” wasn’t in breach of any guidelines after he apologised for attending the event. 

He admitted that he “probably” let his guard down with regards to the party, which saw 50 people including himself attend a private party in the Merrion Hotel organised by Katherine Zappone before her UN envoy nomination.

The event didn’t break Covid regulations, according to the Attorney General, but there has been a question mark over whether it broke industry guidelines.

“I want to express my regret at the fact I attended that event and that it’s led to this controversy,” he said on RTÉ News yesterday evening.

"And I want to say sorry to the hospitality industry in particular, they’re struggling to get open again and it doesn’t help them that the guidelines are changing and are unclear at time, and to any members of the public who are confused about what the rules are.

"But I do want to say very clearly that the event was not in breach of the Government regulations in place at the time which allow for outdoor gatherings of over 200, and probably wasn’t in breach of the Fáilte Ireland guidelines either.”

This comes as new guidelines for the hospitality industry have been launched which allow 200 people to gather at an outdoor event with live music.

However, Mr Varadkar said the controversial bash isn’t the only reason that this is now allowed to happen, and that the guidelines needed to be updated as they were “unclear”.

“That’s part of the difficulty as they [the guidelines] were unclear and they have changed twice since then, they have changed 35 times since the pandemic began,” he said.

“It said at the time you couldn’t book two tables for indoors but it didn’t say anything about outdoors and that’s one of the reasons we clarified those guidelines today.

“It certainly wasn’t all about the event in the Merrion, people from the live music industry are very pleased they can perform outside again.”

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When asked if he updated the rules to suit himself, the Tánaiste said “no.” He added: “Sometimes issues, anomalies and requests from industries arise and we update them and change them, so obviously we needed to clarify the issue around outdoor gatherings and that was done.”

Although he previously said the guidelines “probably” weren’t breached, Mr Varadkar later said: “I don’t believe the guidelines were breached, but I do accept they were ambiguous and open to interpretation.”

He then apologised to the hospitality industry for the failure of the clarity of the guidelines.

"The last thing they need is a lack of clarity... and I absolutely regret any role I’ve had in this,” he said.

“For my part, I probably let my guard down, I did do a treble check, I checked with the organiser of the event and checked with the manager as I arrived to make sure I was compliant.”
 

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