Monday 26 September 2016

Leo Varadkar waiting for moment he 'sits on the toilet' and it gets linked to leadership race

Published 22/07/2016 | 11:10

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar wants the scheme agreed next year. Photo: Tony Gavin
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar wants the scheme agreed next year. Photo: Tony Gavin

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar is waiting for the moment he “sits on the toilet” and it gets linked to the Fine Gael leadership race.

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The minister, who is frontrunner to replace Enda Kenny, has dismissed speculation that his radical new plans to reform the social welfare system is part of a leadership pitch.

At the MacGill Summer School in Donegal yesterday Mr Varadkar revealed that he wants to link social welfare payments to the cost of living.

This is likely to result in annual rises in line with inflation.

Asked today whether this was a populist move aimed at persuading people to vote for him, Mr Varadkar replied: “No matter what I say or do for the last six months people are linking it to the leadership of Fine Gael.

“I’m just waiting for the moment that I sit on the toilet and some commentator somewhere decides that’s part of some sort of strategy.”

He said summer schools are about “stepping back”

“They are about thinking about longer-term  questions and broader issues and floating ideas. That’s what I was doing.

“I’m the Minister for Social Protection. These are my responsibilities. I attend a summer school and what am I going to talk about? Of course I’m going to talk about the future of social protection and welfare reform.”

However, Mr Varadkar added that he would not be “losing any sleep” over the speculation that he is already engaged in a battle with Simon Coveney and Frances Fitzgerald to be the next Taoiseach.

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