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On Wednesday’s Late Debate on RTE Radio One, Minister Leo Varadkar and Professor John Crown debated the Seanad referendum.

The professor had this to ask the Minister:

Professor John Crown: “Do you think that our country is in a better place because we’ve lost the only banking and finance expert [Peter Mathews] because he had a difference of opinion with your taoiseach on abortion?”

Leo Varadkar: “Yeah well with the greatest respect to Peter Mathews em, I think more and more people are seeing that his banking expertise is not what it might have been…”

Crown: “Ah so that’s why he went it was just a coincidence, that’s why he was booted not over the abortion bill but because he was incompetent? Don’t buy it Leo, not plausible.”

Varadkar: “No. It’s not why but you know you’re jumping around. But the fact he’s not on that committee anymore, I, I, and if you ask around the Dail and Seanad very few people would think and even around the media would think that committee is less for him not being there. It’s probably better for him not being there for a number of reasons particularly for the way he would try to dominate it and so on.”

Later as the debate wrapped up, the host Audrey Carville gave the minister the opportunity to clarify his earlier comments:

Audrey Carville: “Just finally, do you want to withdraw anything you said about Peter Mathews? He’s obviously not here to defend himself. We’ve had some comments in about calling your comments mean and nasty and so on. Do you want to say anything in relation to that?”

Varadkar: “Well, look it, look Peter is an individual in his own right but if I was looking for banking expertise I really wouldn’t be going to him. But you know I’m sure if he wants to join the technical group…”

Carville: “Okay. That’s fine. Well, we will obviously distance ourselves from comments made about Peter Mathews.”

Listen here (around the 25:30 mark)

Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland