No Christmas meet-up with Varadkar amid Covid despite good relationship, Martin says

Taoiseach says he gets on with Coalition partners and received card hand-painted by Ryan

Taoiseach Micheál Martin says his personal relationship with Leo Varadkar is “very good” and he would like to meet up with Mr Varadkar and his partner Dr Matt Barrett over Christmas, but won’t because of Covid.

“First of all, we’d love to meet over Christmas if we could,” Mr Martin said.

“Our personal relationship is very good, and also with Eamon Ryan by the way, we get on very well.

“I got a lovely Christmas card from Eamon this morning, which he painted himself, no pressure in terms of the response. I hope that’s not revealing too much. He’s a very good artist.”


Mr Martin was speaking to journalists during a Christmas media briefing at Government Buildings this week.

“One of the things we say is, because of Covid-19, it’s been very strange. Normally you would get out for a meal or to have a pint, but that just hasn’t been possible.

“Normally [it’s] around this time of the year that you might grab a chance, you know, but it’s just not possible, but some day.

Mr Martin said that he had a “good working relationship” with Mr Varadkar. “We have that facility to pick up the phone if there are any issues and we talk about different things as well, outside of politics.”

Asked if he was “surprised” at how well he gets on with Mr Varadkar, he said: “Not really. I tend to get on with most people. We’re in politics, we trust each other so far.”

Soccer banter

Asked about his conversations with Mr Varadkar and others at a senior level in Government, Mr Martin said they discussed “films, books... He [Mr Varadkar] listens patiently to our banter about soccer when Paschal Donohoe is in the room.”

Mr Martin referred to an outbursts by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during a recent game.

“I think Klopp losing it was a very bad sign, I thought, for Liverpool... I thought it was very striking that Klopp lost it. I like Klopp, don’t get me wrong.

“When the boss is losing the patience and getting a yellow card and so on like that...”

He said that Mr Varadkar “observes this with a degree of humour”.

“Leo is more knowledgeable on rugby and Gaelic football... He is on rugby, he played rugby.

“I think he did in his younger days,” he said.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times