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17th Nov 2021

“If you want to call me a liar, call me a liar” – Row between Martin and Kelly escalates in the Dáil

Hugh Carr

row between martin and kelly covid

“I learned something about you yesterday… that I will not forget.”

Tensions between Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Labour Party leader Alan Kelly have continued to escalate, as a row broke out during Leader’s Questions in the Dáil on Wednesday.

The argument stemmed from a tweet from Labour’s Education Spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin on Tuesday evening, claiming that a conversation between Martin and Kelly had taken place in regards to teachers in schools and the implications of Covid-19 measures on them.

The Taoiseach had announced a range of new restrictions on Tuesday, one of which was a rule requiring household contacts of a confirmed case to restrict their movements for five days and take three antigen tests.

According to Labour and Kelly himself, the Taoiseach had told Kelly that teachers were to be exempt from the five-day rule.

The government later clarified that teachers would not be exempt from the rule, and Martin denied having talked about this exemption with Kelly before his speech on Tuesday.

During Leader’s Questions today, Deputy Kelly accused the Taoiseach of telling “porkies”, and doubled down that the Taoiseach had told Kelly that teachers were exempt.

“This wasn’t a total – I know you’re very annoyed about it, because you messed up – this wasn’t a total misconstruction, wasn’t a total misconstruction. You even denied we had a conversation in here, which makes you look rather silly, considering there’s a video of it.

“So Taoiseach, in your reply, because I’m not going to dwell on it, if you want to call me a liar, call me a liar,” Kelly said.

In the Taoiseach’s reply, he emphasised his seniority over Kelly, and that he had “never seen the like of it” in his years in the Dáil.

He once again denied that he said teachers would be exempt and shared his annoyance at the exchange.

“I never said what you construed I said. I rang you afterwards to make it very clear to you how I regard the exchange.

You can’t do things like that through the chair,” he said.

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