Meath West TD, Damien English appears to have put his foot in it by saying on RTE’s Prime Time, show last night that ‘Socks are clothes and clothes are not essential’.

The Bohermeen man, who is a junior minister, with responsibility for Employment Affairs and Retail businesses was attempting to clarify what businesses are classed as essential, and therefore can remain open under the current Level5 restrictions.

His statement drew a surprised reaction from the usually urbane presenter Miriam O’Callaghan who said ‘That’s a bit mad’, before laughing and adding, ‘I would regard them as essential’.

Needless to say English’s comments reverberated on social media.

A number of posters on Twitter backed him referencing the fact that clothes can still be bought on line.

However one irate tweeter pointed to the flaw in that argument.

He said; ‘My 86 year old mother was seriously ill in hospital, It was essential for her to have pyjamas that had a button top due to all the tubes. What she did not need was a can of lager. Guess which was available to buy, I couldn’t wait seven days for delivery either. What planet do those overpaid incompetents live on?

What annoys me is I can just walk in to a shop and buy alcohol but I can’t buy an elderly woman some knickers and PJs at the same time because this government deems one essential and the other isn’t’.

Following the ministers TV appearance the government today issued the following statement.

‘Retailers can make arrangements for customers to buy non-essential items such as clothes on compassionate grounds, ¬†retailers can sell non-essential items through click or call and collect services during the national lockdown’.