Thursday 19 July 2018

Minister defends Varadkar after US band call him 'tosser' for not posing in front of repeal flag

Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Dublin calling for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment at the weekend. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Tens of thousands of protesters marched through Dublin calling for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment at the weekend. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Breda Heffernan and Cormac McQuinn

A government minister has defended Taoiseach Leo Varadkar after he was labelled a "tosser" by an American band for declining to pose for a photograph in front of a 'repeal' flag.

Members of LCD Soundsystem launched a scathing attack on Mr Varadkar, as one member said she hoped he enjoyed his "free concert and taco".

The Taoiseach was among a group of Fine Gael figures who attended the gig at Dublin's Olympia Theatre on Friday night. Following the show, they went backstage to meet the popular band. Guitarist Al Doyle said during the meeting he wore a 'repeal' tote bag around his neck as a means of protesting against Ireland's stance on abortion.

The musician later took to Twitter to hit out at the Taoiseach writing: "Irish PM Leo Varadkar came backstage. Wore a 'repeal' tote bag around my neck in front of him; he walked away. Tosser."

Fellow band member Nancy Whang then waded into the fray, claiming Mr Varadkar "won't stand up for #reproductiverights", adding: "Hope u enjoyed yr free concert and taco."

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar refused to say whether the Taoiseach had a free ticket. However, it is understood he had been invited to attend.

Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee took a selfie with, among others, Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe, before the LCD Soundsystem gig
Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee took a selfie with, among others, Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe, before the LCD Soundsystem gig

"Leo Varadkar attended the concert with some friends.

"He was invited backstage afterwards... he was delighted to do so. It was a private evening and a social event."

Controversy

It is understood Mr Varadkar was asked to pose for a photograph in front of a 'repeal' flag and declined to do so.

LCD Soundsystem band member Nancy Whang holding a ‘Repeal’ bag.
LCD Soundsystem band member Nancy Whang holding a ‘Repeal’ bag.

The controversy erupted on the eve of a march by tens of thousands of protesters through the capital calling for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment. On the same day, pro-life campaigners staged "awareness events" at locations around the country.

Speaking on RTÉ's 'The Week in Politics', Junior Minister Pat Breen said: "I understand he spoke to a number of the [band] members in relation to the referendum itself as well. Then somebody wanted him to pose for a picture with a repeal flag behind him. Honestly the Taoiseach would not do that. He's in the middle of a debate. He is not going to take sides at the moment."

Irish Independent

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