Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe was invited to Katherine Zappone's Merrion Hotel event 1 month ago

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe was invited to Katherine Zappone's Merrion Hotel event

Donohoe said he "absolutely" accepts Tánaiste Leo Varadkar explanation regarding the event.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has revealed he was invited to the controversial 50-person event at the Merrion Hotel on 21 July organised by former minister Katherine Zappone.

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The Minister told RTÉ's News at One that he did not attend the controversial gathering as he was away on government business when it took place.

While the Attorney General has stated the event did not breach regulations, there have been questions as to whether it breached Fáilte Ireland guidelines in place for the hospitality sector.

Last Friday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar expressed "regret" over attending the gathering, but stated that the event was not in breach of the government regulations in place at the time and "probably wasn't in breach" of the Fáilte Ireland guidelines.

Asked if he accepted Varadkar's explanation, which in itself was the source of some controversy, Donohoe said: "I absolutely do. The Tánaiste has apologised for his attendance at the event and, of course, I apologise for the annoyance and difficulty that I of course accept has been caused by this public controversy.

"The Government has acted now to change the guidance or make it very clear regarding outdoor gatherings."

On Monday, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan - who himself recently attended an event organised by Green Party candidate Claire Byrne at Merrion cricket grounds - said he believed the controversy "undermined public confidence" in the government.

In response to Ryan's comments, Donohoe said: "I think as the country are weighing up the confidence they have in the government and also in the future of our public health, I'd also make the point that this has happened across a period in which our vaccination programme has been vaccinating more and more people every day.

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"There are other things that the Government has been doing across the period that were equally accountable and responsible for that, along with the resilience and the stamina of the Irish people and their adherence to public health guidelines, are also having an effect on the disease."

Main image via Leah Farrell/©RollingNews.ie