Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has given his first interview since it was revealed that he attended an event at Dublin’s Merrion Hotel hosted by former minister Katherine Zappone.
Mr Varadkar expressed his regret that he attended the event.
“I want to express my regret at the fact I attended that event that has led to this controversy. I want to say sorry to the hospitality sector in particular.
“They’re struggling to get open again and it doesn’t help them that guidelines are changing and they’re unclear at times.
“And also to any members of the public who are confused about what he rules are. Because I know most try to stick to the rules and when there’s confusion that makes it harder for people.”
He told RTÉ’s Six One News that the event was “not in breach of Government regulations in place at the time” and “probably not in breach of Fáilte Ireland guidelines”.
There was no live music at the event, he said.
Mr Varadkar said there will be “anomalies and inconsistencies” as the Government reopens society.
He said it was important that the guidelines had now been clarified – and they had been updated twice since the Merrion Hotel event but “not because of the event”.
The Minister for Enterprise said they are updated regularly. “The reasons why they are changed [can be due] to public health advice.”
The Tánaiste added: “I don’t believe the guidelines were breached but I do accept that they were ambiguous and open to interpretation.”
He said it can be confusing for people and he had “triple checked” the advice himself before attending the event.
Mr Varadkar said he apologises to the hospitality industry as he “feels” for them. He said the last thing they need is a lack of clarity.
He added that he “hopes” he did not undermine public health advice.