Novelty socks, viral tweets, tough talk: Varadkar’s first 100 days

Taoiseach makes strong impression internationally, but sees controversy at home

Leo Varadkar on the cover of Time magazine’s Europe edition

Leo Varadkar on the cover of Time magazine’s Europe edition

 

June 14th: Leo Varadkar elected Taoiseach by the Dáil and receives his seals of office from President Michael D Higgins. There is controversy as Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin says the appointment of outgoing Attorney General Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal is “directly political”.

June 16th: Taoiseach meets with DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill in Government Buildings.

June 19th: Mr Varadkar proceeds with Ms Whelan’s move to the Court of Appeal and she is appointed by Mr Higgins.

June 19th: Mr Varadkar meets Theresa May in Downing Street. “It’s my first time in this building so there’s a little thrill in it as well,” the Taoiseach said at a press conference with Mrs May. “We spoke on the way in and I was reminded of that famous scene in Love Actually where Hugh Grant does his dance down the stairs. But apparently, it wasn’t actually filmed here so I didn’t get a chance to see the stairs.”

June 20th: The Taoiseach is criticised when only three women are included among the ranks of his 19 Ministers of State.

June 22nd: Taoiseach attends his first meeting of the European Council in Brussels.

June 24th: At Dublin pride, Mr Varadkar tells a crowd in Smithfield: “I pledge as Taoiseach to use my office, for as long as I hold it, to advance the cause of LGBT rights, to press for marriage equality across Ireland, to speak up for LGBT rights around the world where they are under attack, and to push for the implementation of the sexual health strategy here at home at a time when it is more important than ever.”

June 27th: Mr Varadkar speaks with US president Donald Trump in a phone call, during which Mr Trump congratulates the Taoiseach on his “great victory”.

July 4th: The Taoiseach hosts Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau for a visit. Mr Varadkar wears a pair of novelty, Canadian-themed red socks and the pair later go jogging in the Phoenix Park.

July 7th: Mr Varadkar tells RTÉ’s Primetime he is concerned about some of the Garda evidence in the Jobstown trial.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets Britain’s prime minister Theresa May in June. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets Britain’s prime minister Theresa May in June. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

July 12th: In the Dáil, Mr Varadkar tells Paul Murphy, acquitted in the Jobstown trial: “You’re not a victim”. He also says Mr Murphy owes former tánaiste Joan Burton an apology for the 2014 incident.

“You’re not a victim here,” he told Mr Murphy. “You’re not the victim of any conspiracy. You got a fair trial here and you were acquitted. But that doesn’t mean your behaviour was right.

“And it may well be the case that you weren’t engaged in kidnapping but it was thuggery and your behaviour was wrong.”

July 13th: Mr Varadkar features as the cover story of Time magazine’s European edition, and tells the magazine he wants “Ireland to be a light unto the world”.

July 26th: The Cabinet appoints Frank Clarke as chief justice to succeed Susan Denham.

July 27th: In an interview to mark broadcaster Vincent Browne’s final TV3 show, the Taoiseach says he gets up in the morning at 6.45am.

July 28th: In a roundtable interview with political correspondents, Mr Varadkar significantly toughens the Government’s language on Brexit, saying Ireland is “not going to design a border for the Brexiteers”.

August 4th: Mr Varadkar delivers a keynote speech on Brexit at Queen’s University, Belfast. He attends a breakfast in Belfast to mark Pride in the city the following day.

August 15th: On holiday in Chicago, the Taoiseach is made to wait for a table by an Irish waitress who doesn’t recognise him. A later Twitter exchange between the Taoiseach and J1 student Emma Kelly goes viral.

August 20th: Mr Varadkar meets Mr Trudeau in Montreal, and the pair march together in the city’s Pride parade.

August 25th: The Taoiseach travels to Donegal to meet those affected by flooding.

August 31st: Mr Varadkar tweets: “Still remember where I was the moment I heard Diana had died. Hard to believe it’s twenty years. #Diana20Years.” On the same day, at a meeting with the Catholic bishops, he is urged to reconsider plans to hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

In the Dáil, Leo Varadkar tells Paul Murphy, acquitted in the Jobstown trial: “you’re not a victim”
In the Dáil, Leo Varadkar tells Paul Murphy, acquitted in the Jobstown trial: “you’re not a victim”

Sept 9th: In an interview with the New York Times, Mr Varadkar explains some of his thinking on abortion. “While I don’t accept the view that the unborn child, the foetus, if you prefer that term, should have equal rights to an adult woman, to the mother, I don’t share this view that the baby in the womb, the foetus, whatever term you want to use, should have no rights at all.

“And there are people who take the view that human rights only begin after you’re born and that a child in the womb with a beating heart, the ability to hear, the ability to feel pain, should have no rights whatsoever. I don’t agree with that.”

Introducing her readers to Mr Varadkar, the NYT columnist, Maureen Dowd, says: “Move over DiCaprio and da Vinci – Here’s Ireland’s Leo.”

Sept 10th: Noirín O’Sullivan resigns as Garda Commissioner. Mr Varadkar says the move was in the best interests of the Garda Síochána, and says that the reform programme for the force will accelerate.