Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his boyfriend spotted shirtless and drinking in the park – and people are divided
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is facing backlash after he was spotted shirtless in a park over the weekend with his boyfriend and friends.
Ireland, like most countries, has adopted measures in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which includes a state-enforced lockdown.
However, the country has now moved into its first of five phases to re-open society and the economy – and under those guidelines, people can now meet two others in a public place within 5km of their homes if they observe social distancing.
Leo Varadkar has faced some backlash after he was spotted in a park over the weekend.
It appears that this is exactly what Varadkar did over the weekend. Video footage shared online shows Varadkar with his partner Matthew Barrett, and two other friends, enjoying the sun and drinking cans in Dublin’s Phoenix Park.
And it’s fair to say that social media is divided. Many have accused Varadkar of flouting the restrictions he himself imposed, while many others have defended him from criticism.
Some Twitter users pointed out that, as Varadkar and Barrett live together, they would not be required to keep a distance from each other.
Meanwhile, others have defended him, arguing that the Taoiseach appears to have been following the latest restrictions at the time.
Leo Varadkar was abiding by all the rules in the Phoenix Park. Like everyone who works, he deserves a break. Can curtain-twitching Twitter also take some time off?
— Colette Browne (@colettebrowne) May 25, 2020
People on social media after seeing the pictures of Leo Varadkar with his mates in Phoenix Park pic.twitter.com/kz96ZvzMlG
— Aoife Walsh (@Aoife__Walsh) May 25, 2020
The weirdest thing about the Leo Varadkar "controversy" is that some of the same people shouting loudest for lockdown to end are now criticizing a person for following the opening up guidelines that allowed two people meet two other people in an open space.
— Ken Foxe (@kenfoxe) May 25, 2020
However, some have criticised Varadkar, arguing that he and his friends appeared to be having a picnic together just a week after the Irish government advised people to not to do so.
His critics were referencing comments made by Liz Canavan, assistant secretary to the Department of the Taoiseach, last week at the commencement of phase one.
“If you’re visiting a public amenity, try not to stay too long at the site or have picnics. Please do your exercise and then go home,” Canavan said at the time.
I’m done with social distancing.
If the leader of the country can ignore official government advice, why should I?
— Seán De Brún (@seandebrun2) May 25, 2020
Meanwhile, others have pointed out that Varadkar was far from the only person enjoying the sun in Phoenix Park over the weekend.
People getting angry about Leo Varadkar in Phoenix Park yesterday. Was he within two metres? Was he drinking alcohol?
Who cares 🤷🏼♂️
Literally hundreds of others were doing the exact same thing…… pic.twitter.com/yRIslnNMU2
— Barry Whyte (@BarryWhyte85) May 25, 2020
Varadkar has denied any wrongdoing.
A spokesman for Varadkar told the Irish Independent that he and his partner are currently staying at the Steward’s Lodge on the Farmleigh Estate grounds during the pandemic – which means they would have been well within the 5km limit.
PinkNews has contacted the Department of the Taoiseach for comment.
Varadkar is one of just three openly gay leaders in the world – but his time in the top office could soon come to an end.
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Ireland held its last general election in February, with Varadkar’s Fine Gael falling into third place behind Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.
The three biggest political parties have so far been unable to form a government, meaning Varadkar’s Fine Gael continues to act in a caretaking capacity more than three months after the election.