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?