Saturday 22 October 2016

Was Leo Varadkar's new job a 'rap on the knuckles' by Enda Kenny?

Published 06/05/2016 | 21:38

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

The new Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar refused to discuss if he was given a "rap on the knuckles" by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

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Speaking on RTE News tonight, the former Health Minister told broadcaster Una O'Hagan that he didn't consider the move a demotion. When asked if he was given a "rap on the knuckles", he replied: "I don't want to have a conversation with you about my conversation with the Taoiseach."

It was also put to him that he was "over the moon" to be leaving the Department of Health.

"Oh that was certainly not a quote from me. So I don't know who said that but it absolutely wasn't me."

Mr Varadkar said he saw his new role as a "big opportunity" and was relishing the challenge that lies ahead.

He said he didn't view it as a demotion.

"No. It's a big opportunity. Like you say, on a certain level, I'm sorry to be leaving Health but there's a lot of real opportunities in the Department of Social Protection.

"One of our big policies in the election was reforming the social welfare system to make work pay. To bring in a new family working payment, take away some  of those poverty traps. That's a huge opportunity.

"I feel very strongly as well as to how we can reform the USI system or our social insurance system. To treat people who are self-employed a bit better to restore some of the PRSI related benefits that were cut in the past like dental benefit and others."

At the end of his interview, the FG TD said he was looking forward to immersing himself as a new brief.

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