Miriam Lord: Leo misses switching the lights on after the Kylie excitement
Diary clashes saw the Treeseach miss the festive tradition after non-existent concert meal
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mr Varadkar’s partner Matt and friends with Kylie Minogue at the singer’s gig at the 3Arena Photograph: Tiernan Brady/Twitter
After the excitement of the previous night’s Kylie Minogue concert, the annual switching-on of the Christmas tree lights at Leinster House proved too much for the Taoiseach.
He missed this particular gig for the second year in a row.
Last time, he blew his first chance to be Treeseach at the annual ceremony because a Cabinet meeting overran. His people explained that he rushed across from Government Buildings but it was too late.
On Tuesday, he was missing again.
The Treeseach missed the lighting up yet again and the Oireachtas staff choir, in spectacularly good voice this year, stoically coped with his absence
Clashing commitments. A book launch, apparently. It must have been happening miles away.
In Tara Street? The Irish Times? Sure that’s within a reindeer’s belch of Merrion Street.
Perhaps Leo couldn’t resist the lure of Fintan’s latest oeuvre. Although that’s been launched more times than the Dunmore East lifeboat.
Actually, no. It was The Sunday Papers: a History of Ireland’s Weekly Press edited by Joe Breen and Mark O’Brien. Because Leo Varadkar adores the newspapers. That’s why he mainly communicates these days via Twitter and lifestyle orientated social media platforms.
It’s how we found out the Taoiseach was at the Kylie Minogue concert on Monday night, along with every other gay man in Ireland under the age of 50. Great time had by all, according to the Twitter machine and the photographs.
Then our social media elves told us some lad went on Facebook and swore he saw Leo and his entourage tucking into a free meal at the concert before going off without leaving a tip.
Like he would. As a rule, he always pays his way.
I've been made aware of a post on social media saying I had a free meal at a concert the other night. This is not true. There was no meal, we only had drinks and I paid. I have the receipt to prove it too.— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) December 4, 2018
Gawd, but there’s so much heavy stuff going on at home and in the world at the moment you’d really need a skewed set of priorities to get upset about that random sort of thing. Wouldn’t you?
Anyway, the Treeseach missed the lighting up yet again and the Oireachtas staff choir, in spectacularly good voice this year, stoically coped with his absence. (It would never have happen in Enda’s day).
Maybe Leo is allergic to trees. Or staff.
It was a lovely ceremony. Short, as it always is, due to the cold. Done and dusted in around 15 minutes. But it was a little seasonal treat to get everyone in the mood. Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald made a valiant effort to get into the spirit by wearing a Santa hat and going on a selfie-spree. She was joined at the tree by Labour leader, Brendan Howlin along with the two women who head the Social Democrats – Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall.
“Said the night wind to the little lamb: Do you see what I see?” sang the choir.
No. No sign of Leo.
The Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, raced in the nick of time to the tree, narrowly missing the switch-on but mercifully making the photo ops. “I didn’t know about it,” he protested. “I heard the carols above in my office and ran down. I’d hate to miss it.”
Fine Gael couldn’t muster one senior representative to take part.
‘The Oireachtas community’
Of course, the Ceann Comhairle is in charge at this yuletide event. Heaven forbid this might have a bearing on the Treeseach’s aversion to the tree ceremony.
As always, Sean O’Fearghaíl conducted proceedings with brevity and eloquence.
“As I think about this Christmas, I am conscious of the fact that very many people living in this country are back living the sort of frenetic lifestyle that they did during the Celtic Tiger. But I’m thinking alongside that, we have poverty and homelessness and disadvantage as we have never had before.”
He said he was also conscious that people in “the Oireachtas community” know they are “at a point in the political calendar in the schedule of events where the ante is being upped” and they are under a lot of work pressure. But they also must look after themselves.
The Streisand Effect . . . has the Fine Gael leader ever heard of it?
“Because before we can help family and help the disadvantaged we have to be conscious of our own wellbeing. So can I just exort you all to take time for yourselves, time for your family and time for the needy.”
Then the lights went on. And the choir launched into a medley of Kylie’s greatest hits.
No, they didn’t. They sang a selection of traditional Christmas carols.
Kylie, though, was on Leo’s mind. Or rather, the concert on Monday night in the 3Arena and the subsequent minor post on Facebook.
After the book launch in the Irish Times, where the canapés are supposed to have been wonderful and the wine plentiful, he found time to tweet this: “I’ve been made aware of a post on social media saying I had a free meal at a concert the other night. This is not true. There was no meal, we only had drinks and I paid. I have the receipt to prove it too.”
Oh, thank God for that.
Which reminds us. Barbra Streisand. Another great female artiste. Known for the Streisand Effect – where making an unnecessary fuss about something minor attracts a major outbreak of negative attention. Has the Fine Gael leader ever heard of it?
Because with that tweet, he bought tickets for it.
Leo Varadkar (39¾) is Taoiseach.
Merry Christmas, one and all!