Saturday 18 November 2017

'I am not going to make my personal life an issue' - Varadkar

Leo Varadkar pictured launching the review of Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Picture: RollingNews.ie
Leo Varadkar pictured launching the review of Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Picture: RollingNews.ie
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Leo Varadkar has said he won't be making his personal life "an issue" in the upcoming Fine Gael leadership campaign and hopes others won't either.

The Fine Gael leadership frontrunner was responding to coverage of the personal lives of candidates aiming to succeed Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

"I'm not going to make my personal life and my family life an issue in any campaign and I hope and trust that others won't do either," he said.

Mr Varadkar revealed he was gay before the successful same-sex marriage referendum in 2015.

The minister said the leadership contest should be about "people's different ideas about how we can turn Fine Gael into a fighting force again".

"I'd like any contest, whenever it does happen, to be about not personalities but people's vision for the future of the country," he said.

Mr Varadkar began his remarks by saying there is still "no vacancy" for the leadership of Fine Gael.

Mr Varadkar said he expected the race to be about "how we can move on from a situation where we've crawled out of a very difficult recession into one where we can be much more ambitious about the future of our country".

Ambitions

The minister said the race won't begin until after Mr Kenny addresses the plan for his future "conclusively and effectively" after St Patrick's Day.

"I don't think the contest can begin at least until then," he said.

In recent months Mr Varadkar has travelled around the country on ministerial business, often meeting Fine Gael TDs and councillors in what has been portrayed as an effort to garner support for his leadership ambitions.

Mr Varadkar was asked if he has any such engagements this weekend.

"Fine Gael's a big party. We've about 30,000 members so you kind of run into them in all sorts of contexts," he said.

Read More: A third of FG TDs up for grabs in race for leadership

Mr Varadkar said he had departmental meetings last night.

And he added: "Tomorrow is obviously a rugby day so I'll be meeting lots of people at that but it's the rugby that will be on my mind."

The minister announced a new policy to help people on social welfare to set up their own businesses.

Mr Varadkar announced changes to the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance making it easier for one parent families, people with disabilities and farmers to participate.

He said the scheme "allows people who are on social welfare to set up a business and to continue to receive some of their welfare payments in the first two years while they get that business up and running".

Irish Independent

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