Sunday 22 October 2017

Gay FF minister applauds Health Minister Leo Varadkar for his 'courage' in coming out

Listen to interview below

Pat Carey
Pat Carey
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A former Fianna Fail minister said he has ‘great admiration’ for Health Minister Leo Varadkar who came out as a gay man last month.

Mr Pat Carey said he didn’t have the same ‘courage and confidence’ as Mr Varadkar to come out while in office.

“I suppose I was that generation that just got on with things,” the 68-year-old told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny.

“I didn’t have the confidence and I didn’t have the courage. I’m sure some people will feel I have left them down by not telling them before I told other people.

“I have great admiration for Leo,” he continued.

“People like him are important role models. He is a different generation, he’s a good thirty something years younger than me. He’s able to do this for his generation, maybe I can do something for my generation too.

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“There’s lots of people who were and are in my position that just couldn’t find a way of getting the right words.”

Mr Carey said he was in the car sitting outside a supermarket when he heard Varadkar’s poignant interview with Miriam O’Callaghan.

“I sat in the car on the way into the local Lidl shop and I waited and I said my god, he needs to be applauded,” he said.

“There are many other men like him around the place, and women similarly who would love to be more honest with themselves and honest with the public.”

Mr Carey said it is ‘fairly well known’ he is gay and said he told Fianna Fail party leader Micheal Martin in 2011.

“Micheal Martin was asking me how I was getting on, I told him I was gay and said ‘just in case you heard, I’m gay’.

“He didn’t bat an eyelid.”

From Kerry originally, Carey, who served as a TD for Dublin South-West from 1997 to 2011, said he is ‘enjoying’ life at the moment.

“It is a lonely existence [being on your own]. I was on my own for years and years. I shared a flat with fellow teachers and when it got to the stage I could afford to buy my own house, I lived on my own for the guts of 30-odd years.

“I always got great satisfaction from my work and I’m enjoying myself now I have a personal life on my own terms. That’s satisfying.

“It’s nice to come home and there be somebody there to say hello and talk about football matches and TV programmes and movies and everything else.”

However, the former TD  said he has concerns about preparations about the upcoming marriage equality referendum.

“There is that danger [to take a yes vote for granted], I wouldn’t try and cry wolf now but there is a tendency to take this for granted.

“I think getting people to come out and vote on the day of the referendum will be the biggest challenge.

“There has to be a campaign in place and political parties are the best equipped groups to organise these campaigns.

“If I am to be critical, it’s that they didn’t publish the bill before now.”

Meanwhile, former Justice Minister Alan Shatter expressed the same concerns earlier in the week, saying he doesn't think the Government or electorate should ‘take it for granted’ that the upcoming marriage equality referendum will be successful.

“I’m very conscious this referendum is very important for many people," he said.

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