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Correspondence: Leo Varadkar comes to Belfast

5 August 2017

The short political profile recently published (3.8.17) in the Belfast Telegraph of the Irish Premier is a good indication of how those on the right wish to promote their own version of identity politics:

[...]Leo Varadkar the first Taoiseach to live openly in a same-sex relationship. As a strong supporter of free market economics he's also firmly on the centre-Right politically, and, whilst personally liberal on matters such as abortion, even says that he wants his party Fine Gael to be a "warm house" for those holding more conservative views. Expressing such attitudes has caused Varadkar to be vigorously attacked by voices on the Left throughout his political career, long before any of them knew that he was gay at all. To them, he was Ireland's answer to Margaret Thatcher, and they disliked him accordingly.

And it continued:

By coming out a few years ago in advance of the country's successful same-sex marriage referendum, Leo wrong-footed them all. Politically active members of the gay community were not supposed to break ranks in this way in a country where "being gay" and "being left wing" were regarded as practically synonymous. The Taoiseach's politics are probably not something which will be mentioned much when he arrives in the north this week to take part in events to mark Belfast Pride (he can't attend Saturday's parade due to prior engagements).

It is difficult to address every assumption both political and historical that the above contains not to mention its conservative grandstanding - which has as much subtlety as Donald J. Trump waving the rainbow flag.

So how has it come to pass that a class of people who were once regarded by most political parties as illegal outsiders now have a place within the pro-business conservative family? According to our writer on the Telegraph we were simply waiting for Leo to show up:

“Leo”, she writes, “has wrong-footed them all” and this has occurred because, “Politically active members of the gay community were not supposed to break ranks in this way in a country where "being gay" and "being left wing" were regarded as practically synonymous.”

I don't know where this person has been living for most of her young life but it's certainly isn't anywhere in these islands! The figure of senator David Norris looms large here. For it is common knowledge that the former presidential candidate and Joyce enthusiast has never listed “being left wing” as one of his interests! Nor for that matter has Tory MP Alan Duncan , the leading campaigner for Civil Partnerships - who did what Leo did way back in 2002.

Therefore the public and media perception, that those who have campaigned for LGBT rights have formed some sort of political army of the Left - is absurd and so is the fantasy that the current Taoiseach has broke from their ranks. And as for the free market politics that Mr Varadkar espouses “probably” not being mentioned as it would be offensive to the ears of Left wing army that runs Belfast Pride - only indicates the wilful ignorance of the columnist as an alt-right amateur. For if she had taken the time to speak to the Belfast Pride committee she would quickly find that they do not see gay rights as a matter of “being left wing” but aim instead to promote diversity and equality before the law and that being mono-political is not part of that.
Gerry Fitzpatrick

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