Mr Varadkar’s remarks sparked outrage last week and were roundly condemned by senior Catholic clergymen, members of his own Fine Gael parliamentary party and other opposition politicians before he withdrew them the following day. But he was forced to apologise a second time today to ensure parliamentary records could be properly amended.
In a special statement the Dáil, the Irish parliament, Mr Varadkar said: “I made some remarks about sinning priests this time last week on Leaders’ Questions.
“They caused offence to people I never intended to offend. I wish to apologise to anyone I offended – including the Deputy – and I withdraw the remarks.”
Dáil deputy chairman Pat Gallagher then directed that proceedings move on to next business without further discussion in accordance with parliamentary rules.
Later in discussions Mr Martin briefly welcomed the Taoiseach’s apology without further comment.
Mr Varadkar’s “sinning priest” comments led to condemnation by several Catholic bishops.
During a series of ill-tempered exchanges with several Opposition leaders he made the comments directly to Mr Martin who had criticised Mr Varadkar on his public spending record.
The Taoiseach hit back at the criticism by saying the Fianna Fáil leader reminded him of a parish priest preaching against sin from the altar but then going behind that altar to engage in sin.
The controversial remarks featured on radio phone-in programmes, with some saying the Taoiseach had tarred all priests with the same brush and others arguing he was right because of recent controversies involving cover-ups of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.