Monday 21 January 2019

Former FG leader advises Taoiseach to 'stay away from the Twitter machine'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

A former Fine Gael leader has advised Leo Varadkar to “stay away from the Twitter machine” following posts by the Taoiseach this morning.

Alan Dukes said he’s “anti-social media” and added: “I think politicians should stay off Twitter because they make fools of themselves up to an including President Trump.”

His remarks came in response to Tweets by Mr Varadkar where the Taoiseach appeared to hit back at opposition criticism of the government’s Strategic Communications Unit (SCU).

He said that while packing for his trip to the United States – where he will meet Donald Trump this week – he “got thinking about all the talk about spin [versus] substance”.

Mr Varadkar then outlines six things he and the Government did during the week.

They included committing extra funds for damage caused by Storm Emma, introducing legislation for the planned abortion  referendum and getting Dáil approval for the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

He also noted “high level talks” with EU Council president Donald Tusk and Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg as well as the passing of the Technological Universities Act and opening a policy debate on internet safety.

Mr Varadkar concluded the Tweet with “Just sayin’”.

Mr Dukes made his comments on RTÉ Radio’s Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra show.

He said that the SCU was “probably a good idea” but argued that the “execution of it has been absolutely ham-fisted”.

He added: “I think they let the smart-alecs get way with running it which is a very bad thing.

“And among the smart-alecs I include both politicians and their hired advisers”.

Mr Dukes was asked if he included Mr Varadkar in his assessment of politicians using social media and replied: “I think  politicians should stay away from the Twitter machine”

Labour TD, Joan Burton, who was also a guest on the show and is a constituency rival of Mr Varadkar’s said she thinks the Taoiseach sounded “peevish” in his Tweets.

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