Varadkar goes back to day job after coming out

Leo Varadkar

By Claire Murphy

HEALTH Minister Leo Varadkar was keen to "get on with the day job" and put the publicity storm behind him ever since he came out as gay.

The Dubliner had his first public engagement since the candid interview with Miriam O'Callaghan on Sunday.

The notoriously private Fine Gael politician was keen to divert attention back to his work at the department.

Varadkar admitted at the end of the interview on RTE that he felt as if there was a weight lifted off his shoulders.

He said yesterday that he has been bowled over by the reaction from members of the public.


"Everyone's been really nice and very supportive," he said.

"Obviously, this week I'm focusing back on the day job, and there's a lot going on in health as you know, so that's the priority at the moment."

Mr Varadkar was quick to dismiss suggestions that the decision to give an extremely honest and open interview was a first move in a battle for leadership at Fine Gael.

"There's no such battle I'm aware of, there really isn't," he said firmly.

And he denied reports that the Coalition was on shaky ground as a bitter war of words has erupted between several senior members of both parties.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney declared earlier this week that he "wouldn't have an idealogical problem" with his party going into coalition with Fianna Fail.

However, junior health minister Kathleen Lynch described Mr Coveney's comments as "a bit disloyal".

But yesterday Mr Varadkar was not going to be drawn into the debate. "We're in coalition with Labour. I, for one, am really pleased that Labour is in G)overnment with us," he said.

Mr Varadkar was on hand yesterday to launch CFR Ireland, a national network of Community First Response schemes.

The network aims to double the number of CFR schemes in the country over the next 12 months and increase the survival rate of victims of cardiac arrest.

Community First Responders (CFRs) are civilian responders who are trained to international standards in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, defibrillation and oxygen therapy.

They are part of a local CFR scheme, which is linked to the National Ambulance Service.

The local CFRs can often attend the scene before an ambulance will arrive, and in cases where time is critical, such as cardiac arrest, this can save lives, Mr Varadkar said.


"There are more than 100 local Community First Responder teams across Ireland providing vital help and assistance every day of the week.

"Now, for the first time, there is a national network to support local responders and to expand the service."

Approximately 15 people die from cardiac arrest in Ireland every day, according to Dr David Menzies, medical director of CFR Ireland.

He said for every one minute without treatment, the chances of survival drop by 10pc.

"The rate of survival from cardiac arrest is completely dependent on the speed of response," Dr Menzies said.

"The best chance of survival is defibrillation within the first ten minutes."