Move aside there, Taoiseach – there’s a match on

Varadkar moves keynote speech to avoid clashing with Ireland’s World Cup play-off

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: Will give his keynote speech at the Fine Gael national conference on Friday night instead of Saturday night, when Ireland play Denmark in Copenhagen.   Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: Will give his keynote speech at the Fine Gael national conference on Friday night instead of Saturday night, when Ireland play Denmark in Copenhagen. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has moved his keynote televised address to this weekend’s Fine Gael national conference from Saturday night to Friday to avoid a clash with the Ireland vs Denmark soccer World Cup match.

Instead of taking place in the usual 8.30pm slot on Saturday, Mr Varadkar’s speech – his first as Fine Gael leader – will take place at the same time on Friday evening.

Ireland plays Denmark in Copenhagen on Saturday evening in the first leg of a World Cup play-off. The winner of the two-leg clash – the return game is being played in Dublin on Tuesday evening – will qualify for the World Cup in Russia next summer. The conference will adjourn to watch the match at 7.45pm on Saturday.

Some 1,500 delegates are expected to attend the conference, which is taking place in the Slieve Russell Hotel in Cavan.

‘Republic of Opportunity’

Delegates will discuss a range of party and policy matters over the Friday night and Saturday, and there is expected to be a strong focus throughout the event on Mr Varadkar’s signature theme of a “Republic of Opportunity”.

The live television slots on Saturday morning will be under the theme of “planning for the future” and will outline the Government’s Brexit plans and its ideas for “building a new Ireland”.

Ministers will hold roundtable discussions with delegates on Saturday afternoon, and at 6.30pm there will be a questions and answers session with the Taoiseach.

The party will also hold sessions on the future of Europe and Northern Ireland and the eighth amendment.

A session on party organisation is likely to focus on planning for the next general election. Party bosses are keen that candidates for the next election should be in place next year, as they consider the prospect of an election in 2018.