Saturday 21 October 2017

Opinion: I don't support Varadkar but I support the future he represents

Reporter Zainab Boladale
Reporter Zainab Boladale

Zainab Boladale

An openly gay, half-Indian man could potentially be Ireland’s next Taoiseach and for many this is something that should be celebrated.

This is a political figure who only a few decade ago would have been discriminated or shamed out of running for such an authoritative role.

Fine Gael leadership candidate Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers
Fine Gael leadership candidate Leo Varadkar. Photo: Damien Eagers

His candidacy shows what Ireland has achieved in such little time. Ireland has reached a point which may have once seemed impossible but on closer examination does Mr Varadkar represent hope? Do minority groups believe that he’s going to lead a charge of significant progress or change?

Despite the historical significance of Leo Varadkar’s candidacy and the fact that he checks the diversity boxes for many of the minority groups in Ireland, his conservative political ideology and public stance on social issues over the years are still reminiscent of the many traditional straight white men that have saturated Irish politics.

I've never heard someone who is LGBT+, a dual nationality citizen, a non-national or a person of colour say that if Varadkar gets elected, he’s going to make things better for this country.

I don't believe this either.

A glance back as his time in the Dáil shows that he has supported budget cuts to mental health services, has a conservative view on abortion rights for women and is part of a Government who support a loan scheme to fund higher education.

These are all issues that affect people living on the fringes of our society.

Read More: Agriculture and food must be top of Brexit negotiations - Varadkar

Despite this, one of the biggest positives that would come out of Varadkar becoming Taoiseach would be the positive message and affirmation for those who may feel that their background and upbringing doesn’t fit the narrative of what it means to be an Irish person.

It says to those who don’t often see someone like them hold positions of authority that they can achieve great things so long as they are dedicated to their dreams.

Most importantly it would illustrate that Irish people are far more progressive than they’re often given credit for.

This to me, is the only aspect of Vardakar’s candidacy that calls for a celebration.

Read More: Varadkar’s property tax cut for Dublin homeowners

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