Sunday 4 December 2016

Leo and the politically curious case of the reluctant could-be Taoiseach

He seems caught between his belated youth and the burdens of office, but he shouldn't have to choose, writes Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

Published 24/07/2016 | 02:30

Star power: Former health minister and now Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar has just enough cool to offset his young fogeydom and is, at present, our most credible candidate for Taoiseach. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Star power: Former health minister and now Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar has just enough cool to offset his young fogeydom and is, at present, our most credible candidate for Taoiseach. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Would you give up the time of your life for career advancement? Would you subjugate your youth to your ambition? Those might be the questions that Leo Varadkar asks himself as we all puzzle over why he won't throw his hat into the Fine Gael leadership race. The stars are aligned. The polls show we want him. The chance may never come again. He's in the political equivalent of what mountaineers call the death zone now. Why not push all the way to the summit?

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In terms of parsing his state of mind, you could look between the lines of his own words - he's said he doesn't think he'll be a career politician and, more recently, that he hopes the opportunity to become Taoiseach will not arise in the next five years. But you could also look at the man. When he got involved in the heave against Kenny five years ago, he did not have the life he has now.

In the last two years he has undergone one of the most profound changes an adult can go through, in coming out. It is the feeling of finally being able to breathe. He has a relationship now - something that would have seemed unimaginable, growing up, to a lot of gay men of his generation.

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