Thursday 22 August 2019

After the Kylie backlash, Leo resists any urge to Spice up his life

Cutting it: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Dean of Business Andrew Burke and student Dina Abu-Rahmeh at the official opening of Trinity Business School. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Cutting it: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Dean of Business Andrew Burke and student Dina Abu-Rahmeh at the official opening of Trinity Business School. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Leo's heart might have said 'Spice up your life' - but his head said 'remember the Kylie fiasco'.

So on the eve of the local and European elections, he played it cool.

Not a whiff of a star-dazzled selfie with the biggest girl band of the 90s. Not a mention of 'girl power' in his speech.

What a downer. But that's not to say he wasn't excited.

"He's already mentioned them," said an official as the Taoiseach arrived at Croke Park for an event, with the boom of the Spice Girls' hit 'Do It' pumping out in the background.

Out on the stage performing last-minute sound checks ahead of their gig, they were just a tantalisingly short lift-ride away from where he stood, addressing the annual conference of The Wheel association of charities.

Outside, there were those iconic figures, bouncing around like the spirit of 1997 - Ginger Spice in a very elegant, long white dress suitable for her new persona as lady of the manor, and Sporty Spice in her trusty tracksuit.

Scary Spice was in a purple animal-print jumpsuit, and Baby Spice in sports gear and a leather biker jacket.

No Posh Spice, of course - since she declined to tour with them - but, then again, Fine Gael has plenty of its own.

We could hear them belting out the occasional line from the old hits. They sounded pretty good.

But as soon as we even went near the windows of Croke Park's conference centre, the security staff were on us like a tonne of bricks.

"No photographs - or I'll be out of a job," they warned.

Still smarting from the public lash he received after cosying up to Kylie Minogue backstage at her gig at the 3Arena six months ago, Leo, too, kept away from the windows.

He was halfway through his speech where he spoke about reclaiming Wolfe Tone's spirit of civic republicanism through volunteerism when he was suddenly interrupted by the blare of 'Mama' from the stage.

He didn't bat an eyelid.

On his last few engagements before election fever is sparked, he had earlier officially presided over the opening of the new €80m Trinity College Business School, neatly unveiling a plaque bearing his name.

There was applause as the Dean of the Trinity Business School, Professor Andrew Burke, said that as the fastest-growing business school in Europe, Trinity has now joined the top 1pc of accredited peers in the world.

The Taoiseach began his speech by paying tribute to Séamus Lawless, assistant professor at the university's School of Computer Science, still tragically missing on Mount Everest.

Mr Lawless (39) was one of four Irish people who climbed the world's highest peak.

He fell last week at an altitude of 8,300 metres.

Describing 'Shay' as an "inspirational character", the Taoiseach said that the fact he had climbed Everest to raise money for the children of Barretstown spoke of his courage and determination in thinking of others.

Revealing that the Tánaiste is in close contact with his family, he said he hoped that Shay could soon be found so that he can be brought home to his family.

Irish Independent

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