Leo Varadkar And The Irish Independent’s Prurient Tabloid Journalism

As citizens and voters, do you need to know if your politicians are married or in a relationship? Do you need to know the identity and background of their partners, of wives and husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends? Do you need in-depth reports on their romantic lives to better judge their worthiness for political office? Are the actions and duties of a Teachta Dála, a “Messenger to the Dáil“, dependent on his or her gender and sexuality? I suspect that most people in Ireland would answer “no” to all of these questions. Many, indeed, might argue that in this day and age such queries should not be raised in the first place.

Unfortunately the right-wing Irish Independent seems to disagree, believing that the personal life of Leo Varadkar, the current minister for social protection and a likely candidate for the leadership of Fine Gael, should be the subject of prurient interest for its journalists and readers. The flagship title of Independent News & Media has focused, unsurprisingly, on Varadkar’s long-term relationship with another man. Under facile claims of tolerance, the conservative newspaper has adopted a patronising tone in relation to the Dublin TD’s sexual orientation and its supposed effect on his public image. Or possible selection as a future Taoiseach na hÉireann. There is nothing more obnoxious than the illiberal pretending to be liberal. But as I have pointed out before in relation to the denizens of Independent House, what can you expect of a pig but a grunt?

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12 comments

  1. The grunting sow might have a point, in their own classless way, though. It looks increasingly likely Kenny is for the high road, although I don’t understand why, and Varadkar is probably favourite to replace him. Having an openly gay Taoiseach would be HUGE. Would we be the first country to do so even?
    But due to the cosy relationship between the political class and journalists nobody really knows what kind of life Varadkar leads for himself. A discreet veil has been given to him. Is his partner a flighty bit of fluff, similar to gay David Norriss’s Israeli friend, or is he a solid dependable sort – fit to stand solemnly in the background at foreign meetings? We’re not really used to these things yet, I don’t know why it’s liberal to suppress natural curiosity.

    1. Ah c’mon. The Norris situation was different, mixed up with all sorts of shenanigans and questionable stuff. Varadkar is going out with a teacher for god’s sake. I have no idea who Enda Kenny is married to nor do I care. We do not have presidential system. The taoiseach is merely the chief executive officer on a board functioning with collective responsibility. The Indo articles were egregious prurience posing as liberal thought-pieces. Bah! 😉

  2. Unless a politician’s personal life involves illegality, it is NO ONE’s business but their own. Mr. Varadkar is not a zoo creature. Remember what curiosity does to the cat. This is not about liberalism or conservatism or any other ”ism”. This is about common decency, having some manners put on you and minding your own freaking business!

    1. I wholly agree. I didn’t link to the offending articles because they don’t deserve the traffic but they can be Googled easily enough. The patronising, sneaky tone of them just infuriated me. It’s 2017 not 1917!

  3. No I don’t agree. To be 100% honest I didn’t know the fella was going out with a teacher – I didn’t read the article either as I wouldn’t give them the traffic! That fact informs my thinking about him though. It deserves to be dealt with properly and maturely. Trumpeting that we should blithely accept major change without having a conversation about it is one of the reasons why Trump, Brexit, Le Pen has happened. Like it or not a huge change has happened regarding the normalisation of homosexuality in the last 20 years in the Western world and pretending we’re too high-minded to find the details of interest is just counterproductive.
    Fair nuff on the Norris situation, twas an extreme case, but so far anyway, he’s the only gay politician’s partner I’ve heard of. Actually Pat Carey was another.
    As for chief-executives and presidents I think that distinction is well gone. I don’t know who Enda’s wife is either but I do see her featured here and there and I’m sure if she wasn’t a typical Fine Gaelers boring wife, I’d be told more.

  4. Gutter journalism – just a few feet from the sewers and the home of much of the media. The right will soon have ditched decency completely.

  5. Leo posed for pictures and gave the interview willingly for the Indo, that point seems missed from this blog.i spotted not offensives in it. I think this is a case of finding offense for the sake of it.

    1. Where does it say that Varadkar posed for the pictures? They look like they were taken randomly from social media. Maybe the TD gave his permission for their use but there is no evidence that he did so. Furthermore the articles by Miriam Donohoe, Brian O’Reilly, etc. were not interviews. They were opinion pieces.

  6. To some extent, I think a political leader’s homosexuality and/or childlessness IS a matter of public interest. The childless don’t have to worry about their grand daughters being brought up in an Islamic republic of Europe where they will be blown up, gang raped or plied with drugs for example, and are not gonna have their sons killed in wars they start (well neither would any heterosexual member of the British European or US ruling class these days.

    http://www.unz.com/isteve/forecasting-a-million-muslim-mob-sailer-on-tetlocks-superforecasting/

    http://takimag.com/article/the_genetic_dead_ends_who_rule_europe_jim_goad

    1. Ah c’mon, that is a pretty narrow point of view. I can’t see that sexuality or fertility (or inclination!) have anything to do with one’s qualifications for political office. I have no kids nor am I likely to ever have any. But I still have a stake in wider society and its future.

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