HEALTH Minister Leo Varadkar has said he wonders why he didn’t come out as gay sooner, after the positive response he has received.
Mr Varadkar said he made the decision based on a number of policy decisions coming up – saying that he wanted to be transparent.
“It was very much a personal decision, because there are a number of policy issues coming up. Issues around blood transfusion, issues around surrogacy.
“I didn’t want anyone to think or suggest I had some form of hidden agendas”, he told Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio One this morning.
He said there has been an overwhelmingly positive response.
“The response from people has been really great, very encouraging, and I’m very grateful for that. I kind of wonder why I didn’t do it sooner, but I’m a very private person.”
The Minister was challenged on comments he made in the Dail, when he said every child had a right to a mother and a father.
“I should point out that was a speech five years ago.
“It was a speech in support of civil partnership, and I went on in that speech to say there are other types of families, and that we need a mechanism to recognise that. You always know you’re on the right side of an argument when people selectively quote you out of context.”
He said the constitution needed to reflect Irish society more.
“In the real world things aren’t always that simple. All we’re trying to do in our constitution is to reflect the reality of the real world as it now is in Ireland. It’s not an attempt to change society, it’s to recognise it as it is.”
Mr Varadkar said the referendum is not about children – although he believes opponents of the amendment will try and present it as such.
“It’s already the case that straight married couples can adopt, single people can adopt – this legalisation will allow same sex couples to adopt. The referendum will not be about adoption or children- I have no doubt people will make it about that, like they made the divorce referendum about that. But when you don’t have a good argument I guess you try to come up with tangential ones.”
He said that the he isn’t sure it will pass – as polls suggested that the Children’s and Seanad referendums would pass.
The Seanad referendum failed while the children’s referendum was only passed narrowly.
“When all the political parties are behind something, it makes people suspicious, even though it shouldn't.
“The campaign shouldn’t be led by politicians, it should be led by civil society groups.”
He also defended cabinet colleague Simon Coveney, over comments about possible coalition with Fianna Fail.
“I think the coverage has been unfair to Simon, quite frankly.
“I think in many ways he was being polite to his constituency colleague Micheal Martin, and it’s been blown out of proportion.”
He added that he believed the government is stronger for having Labour there.
“It’s a better government because Labour is there, there’s a bit of Ying and Yang.
“We’d have loved to have been in power on our own, or with independents – but would it have lasted? We’ve already lost six of our own.
“What we have with Labour is very stable government. I think it’s a better government for having Labour in there.”
He said he had two problems with going into coalition with Fianna Fail – the main one being it would leave Sinn Fein the main opposition party.
“I’d have two enormous problems with coalition with Fianna Fail. Fianna Fail is now really becoming at tax and spend party.
“Secondly, I think if there was a coalition between Fianna Fail and Fine Gael the risk is it would then open up Sinn Fein to become the lead party in opposition and the natural alternative government, and that would be a really bad thing for our country.”
He said although he and Lucinda Creighton are good friends – he would not be extending an invitation for her to return to Fine Gael.
“I think she’s made her decision that she’s departed from the party for quite a number of reasons.
“We have a really excellent candidate in Eoghan Murphy in that constituency.
“That’s a decision for her, it’s not for me to extend those kind of invitations to people.”
Fine Gael minister Simon Coveney says it is a "shame" that remarks he made about a potential coalition with Fianna Fáil have been interpreted as being "disloyal" to the Labour Party.
When I went into the Department of Health, I said we had a great opportunity to improve things and really make a difference to people's lives. I said I was up to the challenge and I'm working just as hard today as I was on day one. But in an area as big as Health, you need a clear strategy and a set of targets. That is what I am publishing today.