Tanaiste Leo Varadkar is facing criticism tonight after a photograph emerged on social media showing him at a music festival in London on the very weekend Electric Picnic was cancelled in Ireland due to the government’s Covid-19 restrictions.
Mr Varadkar was pictured at the Mighty Hoopla festival in Brockwell Park in London on Saturday where Cheryl Cole was set to make her return to the stage after a long hiatus.
Oonagh Murphy, who attended the concert, tweeted a picture of Mr Varadkar wearing a polo shirt and shorts, with the words: "Interesting that Leo Varadkar has come to a festival in the UK today, while failing to commit to a plan for the Irish entertainment industry.”
With the Irish music and entertainment industry closed for more than 18 months due to the pandemic, Mr Varadar’s attendance at a live gig on the day the Electric Picnic should have been held in Stradbally, Co Laois has not gone down well with some Twitter users.
Mark Graham, who produces the Irish Music Industry Podcast, tweeted: “On the weekend that Electric Picnic was meant to be on, here is Leo Varadkar at the unsegregated full-on full capacity Might Hoopla Festival London. Entry with Covid passport or PCR test. Angry? Please let him and his colleagues who have crippled our entertainment industry know.”
However, Twitter user Bobby Healy insisted the Tanaiste “has a right to a private life” — a sentiment echoed by a spokeswoman for Mr Varadkar who said the Fine Gael leader is currently in the UK “on private time where such events are allowed”.
She added: “Festivals and concerts are permitted in Ireland from Monday. The Tánaiste is a strong supporter of the Irish events industry and nearly 100 million has been provided to the entertainment sector during the pandemic, not including EWSS and PUP.”
The live event industry, which represents 35,000 people and is worth €3.5bn to the Irish economy, has stalled since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Last week the Events Industry Alliance outlined its demands to the government for a full reopening of indoor and outdoor events for the fully vaccinated, along with financial supports, in early September.