Varadkar tantrum: Ex-leader lashes out at replacement as shaky Irish government splinters

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In a fiery exchange between the two party leaders at a Cabinet meeting, Mr Varadkar hit out at Mr Martin’s leadership after new COVID-19 restrictions were imposed following a spike in cases. Sources described how Tanaiste Mr Varadkar took aim at the Fianna Fail leader in a meeting before the changes were announced.

He protested over the cancellation of a Cabinet sub-committee meeting, arguing it should have been held to discuss measures proposed by public health advisers before the Cabinet reached its decision.

Sources with knowledge of the meeting told the Irish Times Mr Varadkar said this was not an acceptable way to do business.

His criticism comes after sources in Fine Gael, Mr Varadkar’s party, accused Mr Martin of being “incoherent” on the new coronavirus restrictions.

On Tuesday the Taoiseach announced a raft of strict measures designed to curb the rise in coronavirus infections.

The new rules will stay in place until September 13, after schools have reopened.

Mr Martin said all outdoor events have been limited to 15 people, and indoor gatherings to six people, down from 50.

Weddings have been excluded from the updated restrictions.

Following a lengthy Cabinet meeting, the Government agreed that sporting events should be played behind closed doors with social gatherings before and after to be avoided.

Restaurants and bars serving food can remain open but must close by 11.30pm.

Over 70s have been advised to limit their interactions and people who can work from home are encouraged to do so.

On Wednesday a public health expert warned the level of community transmission of coronavirus in Ireland had doubled in the previous 10 days.

The country’s growth rate for the infection has surged to Europe’s fourth highest in recent weeks.

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Members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) have been sounding the alarm over the escalation in cases.

The chairman of NPHET’s Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Professor Philip Nolan, defended advice provided to the Government.

He said: “We’ve seen the virus spread, essentially, from workplaces to households, and between households and into the community.

“The rate of growth is significantly slower than it was at our other critical juncture back in late February and early March, but it’s too fast.

“We need to move quickly now together to prevent further transmission between households and from households into the community, and that’s the core message behind these interventions, to limit our social contacts and to limit those social contacts to small groups.

“Unless we move now collectively and firmly to prevent further transmission of the virus, we will see case numbers rising to a level that are unsustainable.”

Footage posted on social media showed cars struggling to make their way through flooded streets.

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