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Wed Jun 14, 2017, 11:42 AM

Ireland elects first gay prime minister Leo Varadkar

Source: Reuters

Leo Varadkar was elected Irish Prime Minister on Wednesday, making the 38-year-old son of an Indian immigrant the once-staunchly Catholic country's first gay premier and the youngest person to hold the office.

Despite inheriting Europe's fastest-growing economy, he will face immediate challenges in the shape of neighboring Britain's exit from the European Union, a political crisis in Northern Ireland and a housing crisis at home.

Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny earlier this month as leader of the governing Fine Gael party, with colleagues pinning their hopes of an unprecedented third term on the straight talking Varadkar, who they believe can widen their appeal in elections that may be triggered as soon as next year.

"Enda Kenny's leadership enabled me to become an equal citizen in my own country two short years ago and to aspire to hold this office, an aspiration I once thought was beyond my reach, at least if I chose to be myself," Varadkar said in reference to Ireland's 2015 vote to legalize gay marriage.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ireland-politics-idUSKBN1951XD?il=0

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 12:09 PM

1. Taoiseach

The Irish leader is called the Taoiseach (pronounced TEE-sock). News agencies call it prime minister just to save the trouble of explaining it... or looking up the spelling.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 12:27 PM

2. And further info here


Leo Varadkar has been elected the country's 14th Taoiseach in the Dáil by 57 votes to 50, with 45 abstentions.

He has travelled to Áras an Uachtaráin where President Michael D Higgins presented him with his Seal of Office.

As Ireland's youngest Taosieach, Mr Varadkar will return to the Dáil this evening to announce the members of his Government.

Mr Varadkar said he would approach the office of Taoiseach with a profound sense of humility and would focus on solutions.

In his first Dáil speech after being elected Taoiseach, Mr Varadkar paid tribute to his predecessor, acknowledging Enda Kenny's role in rebuilding the country.

Mr Varadkar also noted that Mr Kenny made it possible for him to be an equal citizen in his own country with the same-sex marriage referendum.

He said he has been elected to lead, but he plans to serve.

Mr Varadkar said politics is not perfect but that it is the best way to solve problems and build a better future.

Politics is a way to inspire people to be part of something bigger, he said, adding: "I believe in the power of politics".

Democracy, he said, is not just about diversity, but about proportionality.

The Taoiseach-elect said the equal right to speak must apply to ministers and backbenchers and not just to minority opposition parties.

He said the Government he will lead will be one of the European centre.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 01:06 PM

3. A lot of people on the left are happy about the fact that he is gay and of half-Indian descent,

however as a politician he is quite conservative. He has made it clear in the past that he is against gay adoption and he was in favor of deporting unemployed immigrants. He is also anti-choice. This guy is NOT a progressive by any means.

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Response to smirkymonkey (Reply #3)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 05:02 PM

5. "Quite conservative", yet again. Compared to Politicians in the US or Tories in England, he is not.

For IRISH politics, he is right of centre, but the main 3 or 4 parties are Social Democratic parties, for the most part. And Varadkar fits into that. His father (also a medical doctor) was interviewed on the evening news tonight, and asked what he wished for his son, as Taoiseach. He replied that he would like to see him "look after the poorest of the poor" - that's the type of family he comes from. You're viewing "progressive" from an American point of view, whereas we in Ireland, are still coming out of 1922 Civil War politics, which is neither Left or Right. We have rumps of the Right and Left.

Do you still hold it over President Obama and Hillary Clinton that they opposed Gay Marriage, and then moved their position ? If not, why can't Varadkar ?

This is what he said on Gay Marriage and Gay Adoption in 2015

But Mr Varadkar insisted that any change of opinion was in matters of emphasis. "I think, like a lot of people, my views have moved on in the past five years. I want to point out though that it was a speech in favour of civil partnership, and I called for it to go further including limited adoption rights for same-sex couples. I now support full equality on the matter," the Health Minister told the Irish Independent.


On abortion, he is generally pro-life (apart from threats to the life of the mother etc), but one of his first acts this evening is to announce that

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed there will be a referendum on the Eight Amendment to the Constitution on abortion next year.

He said Minister for Health Simon Harris would be responsible for bringing forward legislation to allow for the referendum on the amendment, which gives an equal right to life to the mother and the unborn.


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Response to OnDoutside (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 05:34 PM

11. Best of luck to him

The Brexit issue is likely to be a tough nut, altho with the self-inflicted wounds May just gave herself...
Driving along the border a few years ago where you could only tell which side you were on by seeing if the petrol prices were in euros or pounds made us smile. I'd hate to see that change on our next trip over.

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Response to Maeve (Reply #11)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 05:44 PM

13. Anyone who says they know what's going to happen, hasn't a clue ! It is so complicated,

but it does look like May has overplayed her hand, and goes into the Brexit negotiations with few cards. The one, odd, positive from an Irish perspective, is that as nutty as the DUP are, it's in their interest to get the best deal for NI, and that includes an open border. So hopefully, their support for May will centre on that.

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Response to OnDoutside (Reply #5)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 08:30 PM

14. I have read quite a bit about him in the Irish Times, the UK Guardian and the NY Times.

He seems to have a wide authoritarian streak. I feel like he has tempered it to become more palatable to voters, but I am not so sure that he has really changed his mind on things completely. Authoritarians rarely do amend their positions. I still find his stance on the choice issue unacceptable. What the hell does equal rights for both the mother and the unborn fetus even mean?

That still means that women do not have control over their own bodies. You would think that after the horror of what happened to Savita Halappanavar that Ireland would take this issue more seriously but obviously they don't. Women are still second class citizens and until you elect a Taoiseach that completely supports a woman's right to choose, I can't get behind him or her.

I realize that there is no comparison between your liberals/conservatives and ours, but he strikes me as the kind of person that, once he has achieved what he wants, he could no longer give a damn about the people he has left behind. In that sense, he is like our republicans. "I've got mine, to hell with you."

We'll see. The proof is in the pudding. I am willing to give him a chance and to see how this plays out, but I don't have a lot of faith in him.

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Response to smirkymonkey (Reply #14)

Thu Jun 15, 2017, 05:20 AM

15. One of his first directions was to instruct the Minster of Health to bring forward the wording

for a Constitutional Referendum next year.

Leo Varadkar has announced, on his first day as taoiseach, that Minister for Health, Simon Harris, is to begin preparing legislation for a referendum on repealing the eighth amendment in 2018, a move that has long been called for by pro-choice activists and the majority of students.

Varadkar made the announcement while revealing his new cabinet positions, which saw a largely unexpected reshuffle, and Harris tasked with staying on in the Department of Health.

Varadkar’s statement today is in line with Harris’s own beliefs on the issue. Speaking yesterday after the UN Human Rights Committee found that Ireland’s current legislation on abortion was a violation of human rights, Harris called on the government to have a referendum on this issue next year. The case was taken by Siobhán Whelan who was forced to travel to the UK to have a termination due to a fatal foetal abnormality. The state was ordered by the committee to provide Whelan with psychological treatment and compensation.

After news of the committee’s findings were released, Harris reiterated his belief that the issue of allowing abortions in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities needed to be addressed by the government.

The news of a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment comes in the same week as reports that a young girl was sectioned after asking for an abortion. The case came to light after the Child Care Law Report Project was published this week with 22 cases being highlighted. In a report by the Irish Times, it was stated that the girl was detained under the Mental Health Act due to the fact she was at risk of self-harm and suicide due to pregnancy. The psychiatrist went on to find that “this could be managed by treatment and that termination of pregnancy was not the solution for all the child’s problems at this stage”.

Reaction to the news has been quick, with Senator Ivana Bacik and Executive Director of Amnesty Ireland, Colm O’Gorman, tweeting out their support of the news. O’Gorman said that the “solid commitment” offered by Varadkar was “great news” but called on people to ensure that they “get a chance to vote fully”.

After months of deliberation, on April 22nd, the Citizens Assembly, tasked with the challenge of advising the government what action it should take on the issue of abortion in Ireland, among other issues, voted to replace or amend the eighth amendment in the constitution.

The introduction of the assembly was criticised by pro-choice campaigners, including many student groups, as a way for the government to put-off calling a referendum on the eighth amendment. As the assembly only holds an advisory role, Harris could still advise the government to call a referendum to allow Ireland to vote on whether or not to completely remove the eighth amendment.

There is very little support for complete abortion on demand in Ireland, but I am confident that there is a majority who will pass a Referendum which allows

Danger to the mother's life
Where the child has no hope of surviving

Abortion up to 12 weeks might possibly pass but this will be such a dirty referendum run by Catholic Church hardliners (largely funded from US anti abortion money), that I would fear the Referendum not passing because the fear and hysteria whooped up. You can criticise as you want, but if the support isn't there, it would be a brave politician who would stick their necks out like that. Successive governments have run away from this, now at last there appears to be movement.

It might be of interest to note that a Citizens Assembly was convened by the government to tease through a range of issues, including abortion and there was a 64% support on some form of limited abortion


Members of the Citizens’ Assembly have recommended that abortion should be permitted in the State in a wide range of circumstances.

A majority of the 92 members voted to allow for abortion in all 13 circumstances considered by the body at its final meeting on Sunday.

The lowest level of support was for the proposal to have no restrictions on the reasons for allowing abortion yet this still attracted approval from almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of a valid poll of 87 members of the assembly.

At the request of the members of the assembly, a category of abortion in the case of socioeconomic circumstances was included. Abortion was supported by 72 per cent of members of the assembly in that case.

The outcome is a recommendation far more liberal than many observers had expected.

The assembly’s recommendations will be presented to the Oireachtas and if accepted would mean the holding of a referendum to overturn the existing Constitutional provision banning abortion.

The problem the Government have is finding the middle ground, to make sure the Referendum passes. Referendum campaigns have been horrific over the last decade, with the people often voting against whatever the government proposes, even though that may be against their best interests. That's if they even turn up to vote.

As for Varadkar, he's a medical doctor, clearly a very intelligent and articulate person, who happens to be gay. He has tacked to the right, but you just heard him yesterday that he will govern from the centre. Your fear appears to be the reverse of what he is actually doing.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 01:15 PM

4. Not in the least


My Irish friends describe him as a "self hating f#g"

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Response to Txbluedog (Reply #4)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 05:03 PM

6. Well your Irish friends sound like Trump supporters.

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Response to OnDoutside (Reply #6)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 05:07 PM

7. Have you looked into his politics?


He's AGAINST gay adoption, abortion rights etc

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Response to Txbluedog (Reply #7)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 05:11 PM

8. Please look at #5 in this thread. I am Irish and I live in Ireland, I'm well aware of politics in


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Response to OnDoutside (Reply #8)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 05:23 PM

9. Obama and Hillary are not openly gay


A gay man who is against getting the same rights as his heterosexual counterparts is the definition of self hating

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Response to Txbluedog (Reply #9)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 05:39 PM

12. He was a politician in a party back in 2010. No more than Hillary and B.O. had to be

careful on the issue (do you honestly think that they were anti gay marriage all that time ???), Varadkar had to be too. When he came out in 2015, and was accepted for the gay man that he was, his positions changed. He handled it politically just as many Democratic Politicians did. Some on the far left want to crucify him for his past positions, which is ironic coming from supposedly forward looking, liberal groups.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jun 14, 2017, 05:31 PM

10. Excerpts from Varadkar's speech


Leo Varadkar has been elected as Ireland's new Taoiseach by 57 votes to 50, with 47 abstentions.

"The country as we know it would not be here today if it was not for Enda Kenny," he said following the vote.

The Fine Gael leader, who now becomes the 14th Taoiseach, said he took his seat in the Dáil exactly 10 years to the day, today.

"For some politics is a bad word, but we've seen in some countries, and this one, that it can be a way to convince people that change is possible," he said

"Today was a demonstration of democracy in action. Something we sometimes take for granted.

"I hope through our acts and the progress we achieve, we can earn the trust of the people."

"If we want to inspire somebody to believe in your vision you have to appeal to their heart as well as their head.

"The Government I lead will not be of the Left or the Right. It will be of the new European centre. A Republic of opportunities."

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