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Ireland’s first gay leader Leo Varadkar faces backlash 

Just three months ago Leo Varadkar’s ascension to Irish Taoiseach was hailed as a breakthrough moment for both the country and his party.

At 38 he is the youngest to hold the post, having already become Ireland’s first openly gay minister after coming out on the radio, and the first of Indian heritage.

But Mr Varadkar is rapidly falling out of favour – characterised by the Irish press as a slick PR-man who values style over substance.

Of particular concern is his love of lycra-clad runs, taste for avocado on sourdough toast, and affection for rom-coms.

Leo Varadkar was hailed as a leap forward when he became Irish Taoiseach three months ago, but has since been characterised as a PR-man wit no substance (pictured jogging with Justin Trudeau on his visit to Canada last month)

The Irish Times have dubbed Varadkar and Trudeau, along with fellow young progressive  Emmanuel Macron, as the 'avocado lads'

The Irish Times have dubbed Varadkar and Trudeau, along with fellow young progressive Emmanuel Macron, as the ‘avocado lads’

Trudeau pictured attending a gay pride march in Montreal alongside Varadkar and his partner, American doctor Matthew Barrett (right)

Trudeau pictured attending a gay pride march in Montreal alongside Varadkar and his partner, American doctor Matthew Barrett (right)

‘The complaints are mostly about Leo, as he’s called in Irish newspaper headlines, “swanning” around – a mortal sin here,’ the New York Times wrote in a recent profile.

‘That he has a new communications office denounced in the press as a “vanity propaganda project.” 

‘That his love of rom-coms spilled out on a visit to 10 Downing Street to see Theresa May, when he said he “was reminded of that famous scene in ‘Love Actually’ where Hugh Grant does his dance down the stairs.”

Much has also been made of his trip to Canada last month where he spent time with fellow young progressive leader Justin Trudeau.

There the pair, sporting open-collar shirts with sleeves rolled to the elbows, attended the Montreal Gay Pride march along with Mr Varadkar’s partner Matthew Barrett.

Irish radio host George Hook accused Varadkar – who he branded ‘a public relations creation’ – of ‘swanning around’ Canada while the country faces a series of crises.

‘George. Not swanning around Canada. Four meetings and four public events today. Business. Tourism. Media. Irish community. Jobs. Trade,’ he tweeted back.

The same trip led to Varadkar and Trudeau being dubbed the ‘avocado lads’ by the Irish Times, which has been one of the Prime Minister’s most vocal critics.

The group also includes Emanuel Macron, the young, progressive, French President who has yet to meet with Varadkar – though the pair did speak on the phone during his first day in office.

Varadkar also confessed to a love of rom-com films while visiting Theresa May in June, another item brought up for scrutiny by the Irish press

Varadkar also confessed to a love of rom-com films while visiting Theresa May in June, another item brought up for scrutiny by the Irish press

The Taioseach said visiting Downing Street reminded him of the moment in Love Actually when Hugh Grant's character dances down the stairs

The Taioseach said visiting Downing Street reminded him of the moment in Love Actually when Hugh Grant’s character dances down the stairs

Varadkar (pictured left attending an award ceremony in 2012, and right volunteering for the coast guard while Transport Minister) has rebuffed accusations that he has been ‘swanning about’ since becoming Prime Minister

Chief among complaints in the opinion pages of the Times, along with the Irish Independent, is that Varadkar has failed to outline any kind of grand vision for his Fine Gael party or their future direction.

That starts with the homeless crisis Ireland finds itself facing, with numbers of those living rough having over-doubled in the last three years.

There are currently thought to be 8,100 people on the streets in the Republic, with many of them children. The desperate situation has been brought to the fore in recent weeks after three people died on the streets.

Opposition politicians have criticised Varadkar for indulging in PR exercises over the issue and have implored him to act, the BBC reports.

On women’s rights, Varadkar has called there current state of affairs in Ireland – where abortion is still illegal – ‘unequal’ and has pledged a referendum on the issue.

He backed Minister for Children Katherine Zappone’s call for ‘reproductive justice’, but in speaking to the New York Times, he muddied the waters.

‘While I don’t accept the view that the unborn child should have equal rights to an adult woman,’ he said, ‘I don’t share this view that the baby in the womb should have no rights at all.’

Irish feminists are also frustrated that he has not appointed more women to his cabinet, the Times reports. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk