The Taoiseach and trivialising Trumpism

 

Sir, – I agree with your editorial that the Taoiseach’s “tin ear has always been one of his biggest weaknesses” (“The Irish Times view on Leo Varadkar’s criticism of the media:Trivialising Trumpism”, July 4th). However, you are also right that “Leo Varadkar is no Donald Trump”.

He has performed strongly since becoming Taoiseach, particularly over Brexit; he also expertly helped pilot the successful referendum campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Perhaps the controversy after his ill-judged comments in New York is simply a case of the gods of politics levelling things up for him?

If, as you advise, it encourages Mr Varadkar to “deeper reflection” on his conduct in office – and the meaning of his role as Ireland’s top politician – we may all end up benefiting from his future, enhanced leadership skills. – Yours, etc,

JOE McCARTHY,

Arbour Hill,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – Why should the Taoiseach resent the fact that his comments were made public? He was at the function as Taoiseach and he was therefore expressing his views, as Taoiseach, on the interaction between the Irish media and politicians. The excuse that it was a “private” affair simply won’t wash. Why, therefore, should the Irish public be kept in the dark about such an important issue, particularly in this era of Trump and fake news? – Yours, etc,

JIM HICKEY,

Mount Pleasant,

Waterford.

Sir, – The Taoiseach’s comments have upset the journalists. We all need a little rattle now and again to up our game.

Why not see this as just that, and work to improve? – Yours, etc,

SHEILA DEEGAN,

Dublin 3.

Sir, – When certain media outlets refrain from referring to the Taoiseach affectionately merely as “Leo”, the exceedingly long honeymoon period afforded to Mr Varadkar by the fourth estate will have finally come to an end, but are we there yet? – Yours, etc,

PAUL DELANEY,

Dalkey, Co Dublin.

Sir, – As an Irish-American blow-in to Ireland, I could not believe how Taoiseach Leo Varadkar might sympathise with my misogynistic, racist – and if you’ll permit me – fledgling-fascist president on anything, never mind the media? As civil rights leader Eldridge Cleaver pointed out in 1968, “You’re either part of the solution or you’re part of the problem.” And the Taoiseach is seemingly, if not patently, part of the problem. – Yours, etc,

ANTHONY GLAVIN,

Whitehall,

Dublin 9.

Sir, – The Taoiseach’s recent slurs upon the Irish media at a “private function” on his US tour are very disconcerting. He is an intelligent, eloquent and accomplished man. I do not believe that he actually meant what he said. I believe that he was pandering to the prevailing political winds in the United States “in the moment”. That is actually worse. The free press is under subtle and insidious attack in the “developed” countries at present. The truth is the most valuable thing we have. Our political leaders should concentrate on that existential crisis confronting the world’s democracies. It might be an idea for the Taoiseach to leave the photo-ops, Instagram and Twitter feed to the Kardashians. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL DEASY,

Carrigart,

Co Donegal.

Sir, – While Leo Varadkar appears to have had no qualms about elucidating “one of the few things he could sympathise with the US president about”, it’s a pity he didn’t have the courage to describe the many things he could not sympathise with the US president about. He seems to slip into sycophantic mode whenever he touches down on US soil. – Yours, etc,

DENIS O’SHAUGHNESSY,

Kilbride, Co Meath.

Sir, – The Taoiseach had a dig at the media in a speech at a private function; recognising that (a) his remarks had been reported and (b) that politicians should be seen to support a free press, he fully apologised in the Dáil later. Mild opprobrium was heaped on him in a handful of opinion pieces. Letter writers got to have a go at him. Opposition parties got to grandstand a bit. Nobody was censored. That’s about as good as it gets for a democracy. Teacups repositioned and ready for next storm. – Yours, etc,

COLIN WALSH,

Templeogue,

Dublin 6W.