A furious Dáil row erupted when the Taoiseach accused Solidarity TD Mick Barry of being less than committed in his support for democracy.
Mr Varadkar’s comments came as the Cork far-left TD was asking about government plans to ban the importation of gas sourced by the controversial method of fracking.
The Taoiseach said there was a democratic process in Ireland, with an independent planning process, and the right of everyone to object or protest.
“I know you are at best ambivalent about your support for democracy,” the Taoiseach told the TD for Cork North-Central.
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There were repeated calls for the Taoiseach to withdraw that comment. But Mr Varadkar said he would withdraw it once Mr Barry showed he had criticised anti-democratic regimes in Venezuala, Cuba and elsewhere and supported the holding of free and fair elections.
The Taoiseach said he was not referring to the historic regimes of Stalin and Lenin – but talking about current totalitarian leftist regimes in many countries.
Mr Varadkar concluded by saying the Government will investigate the prospects of banning fracked gas imports.