Barry Cowen speaking in the Dáil.

Abuse of politicians will discourage people from getting involved - Cowen

Offaly TD Barry Cowen has responded to an article in a Sunday newspaper which commented on his appearance and that of other Fianna Fail representatives.

The column by Niamh Walsh - headed 'Fianna Fáil are failing at keeping up appearances' - was published in last weekend's Irish Mail on Sunday and included unflattering descriptions of several of the party's representatives when they attended a gathering in Cavan last week.

After commenting on several female politicians, Ms Walsh moved on to the men.

When it came to the Offaly TD, she wrote: "Barry Cowen schlepped in, blazer open, belly bulging, button-up Bar. I wouldn't let these lads take charge of the chicken coop, never mind lead a political rebellion."

The article has since come in for widespread criticism, including from Taoiseach Micheál Martin who "personal, nasty and unkind" and said it was "an attempt to demean women who take politics seriously, and work hard to make people's lives better."

On Twitter yesterday, Deputy Cowen shared a photo of the article and characterised it as abusive toward politicians.

"We all know there is not enough women in politics. Articles like this don't help the cause of increasing their participation," he wrote.

Westmeath TD and Minister of State Robert Troy described the Irish Mail on Sunday article as "disgraceful" and said: "Whatever your political beliefs, this kind of nastiness cannot become a part of political life."