Thursday 22 February 2018

Pitiful bluster from the Dail's fading star

The person who is most disappointed in Leo Varadkar is probably Leo himself, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

It's often said of controversial political figures that if they didn't exist their enemies would have to invent them. Leo Varadakar is different. He exists, but his critics invented him anyway, in the form of a fake Twitter account bearing his name, which transmits a steady stream of rude, politically incorrect messages, most of which consist of Pretend Leo telling us to stop moaning about the recession.

The character of the Fine Gael Transport Minister which emerges from the rogue tweets is a sort of vainglorious Marie Antoinette figure, telling the breadless peasants to eat cake instead, and just generally Not Getting It; insisting, for example, that raising the price of public transport is a win-win situation because the poor would have to walk and "who wants to sit next to a poor person on the bus anyway?". Insofar as such send-ups work only if they nail something true about the target, Varadkar ought to be worried that so many people have fallen for the fake -- or, worse, find it more appealing.

The real Leo didn't exactly do much to shuffle out from under the shadow of his fictional alter ego last week with his actual comments about the imminent Budget. Varadkar first insisted that we should all hit the shops to avoid the rise in VAT in the New Year -- sure, he was planning on replacing a computer and some old suits himself. A few days later, he added for good measure that the only people facing pay cuts this year were Government ministers and senior civil servants and that the vast majority of families had nothing to fear save a €100 household charge, two per cent extra on "a new TV or fridge", and "that's about

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