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Anna Nolan: Coming out on radio wasn't the hardest part for Leo Varadkar

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Health Minister Leo Varadkar

Health Minister Leo Varadkar

Conor McGregor, before his feather weight bout against Dustin Poirier.

Conor McGregor, before his feather weight bout against Dustin Poirier.

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Health Minister Leo Varadkar

I was with Panti Bliss and Caroline Downey last Sunday, along with other people, to launch the 'Share the Love' campaign.

It's a campaign by Marriage Equality Ireland to raise funds for the Yes campaign ahead of the spring referendum on same-sex marriage.

As the photos were being taken and every was milling around chatting in Panti Bar, the subject of Leo Varadkar came up.

People were genuinely moved by his interview with Miriam O'Callaghan, in which he'd spoken of his sexuality.

They were praising his bravery and they felt that it was a huge deal that a government minister had come out as a gay man.

mixed

Pop over to social media and the reaction from people was mixed. There's the 'it's no big deal' reaction. Then there's the 'surely there are more important issues in this country than a man revealing his sexuality' reaction.

And of course there was the 'he's only 36???!!!' gang.

Personally I think it is wonderful that Leo Varadkar opened up about his sexuality. But I don't think it's brave. He had the luxury of being in a radio booth, talking to the very kind and very accommodating Miriam O'Callaghan, who was probably drooling having gotten the scoop of the year so far.

What is brave is what happened before this. When he told his parents for the first time. When he told his close friends.

And here's why it is important that Leo Varadkar shared his news - it is still very difficult to come out as a gay person here in Ireland.

You only have to read what the Pope said last week to see that the Catholic Church is very anti-gay.

Pope Francis, who seems quite reasonable a lot of the time, said in recent days that gay marriage disfigures God's plan. Now this statement doesn't affect me at all, because I am an atheist.

honest

But for the thousands of men and women in this country who as considering being honest about their sexuality and are perhaps about to tell a parent or a friend that they are gay, this sort of statement from the head of the Vatican cannot make it easy.

I came out 24 years ago and although my family and friends were supportive, doing so was scary. I believe it still is today.

So even though the cynics among you may feel it was a political move on Minister Varadkar's part, or even though you feel there are more pressing issues for him to be dealing with, it is a big deal that we have our first gay cabinet minister.

Well done Leo - I admire your honesty.

 

Her name's in the title, so Claire's made it to the broadcasting big time

I saw Claire Byrne on the Saturday Night Show and was so impressed. 

I didn't know what to expect from her but she came across as warm, funny, humble and smart.

And there is no doubt that she is the next big thing in the current affairs arena. So where has this talented woman come from and how has she made it to where she is?

The first I remember of Claire was her being part of the news team at TV3. She then moved on to Ireland AM before jumping ship and hopping over to RTE, with a little stint in the UK in between.

Since being in RTE, she has worked extremely well on radio along with presenting Prime Time with Miriam and Pat.

But to land her own current affairs show, with her name in the title, is unheard of in RTE.

interesting

None of the great current affairs broadcasters I can think of have had current affairs shows with their names in it.

Miriam or Pat, Keelin or Mark, even Brian Farrell ... they've all laboured under a generic newsy title.

It's been Today Tonight, The Frontline, Prime Time, or, er, Crime time!

This show, which debuted last night, looks like its going to be interesting.

The opener had a pre-recorded interview with Colin Farrell dealing with the subject of marriage equality, and Colin's support for the campaign.

The show plans to deal with whatever the news of the day is but I get a feeling there will be a more entertaining slant to the hour, rather than just straight current affairs.

Byrne seems like the type of person who will be able to deal with both serious and light-hearted issues and from her interview on The Saturday Night show I hope she is confident enough to give more of her own fun personality.

 

It was great to chat with Conor...I think

It seems that Conor McGregor is winning the hearts of Hollywood. Well one heart, at least. Arnold Schwarzenegger is reportedly a fan of the fighter and I can understand why. McGregor has the persona of an action hero and the personality of a charmer. I sat with him at a function last year and I found him charismatic and classy. Even though he spoke at, rather than with me, for most of our chat, it was entertaining, so I forgive him! 

Oscar madness is beginning already. The nominated movies and actors will be all over the press, in some form, between now and February 22. Take the recent Twitter rant by the wrestler who inspired the film Foxcatcher. He took to social media and slated the director. Then he took to social media to say that the film is a good one, and that he was temporarily insane. No doubt we will all be temporarily insane by the time the awards ceremonies are over.

FINALLY, to all you bakers out there: get applying for The Great Irish Bake Off. Go to www.tv3.ie/take part and download the application form. The closing date is midnight on Sunday, February 8. Timing's everything in baking - so don't dilly dally, just get to it!


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