Tag Archives: Leo Varadkar

17/04/2017. Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All. Pictured the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar TD at the launch of a new campaign entitled Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All. The Minister is urging the public to blow the whistle in wellfare fraud in Dublin this morning. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All ads in the Irish Times (above) and on a Dublin Bus today


Last week, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar’s launched his Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All campaign.

At the launch, he stated a range of anti-fraud and control measures in the Department of Social Protection saved taxpayers more than €500million in 2016.

Further to this…

Readers may wish to note a piece in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post by Sinn Féin TD Eoin O’Bróin in which he called Mr Varadkar’s figures into question.

He wrote:

[Varadkar] claimed that “anti-fraud and control measures” saved the taxpayer over €500 million in 2016. No detail justifying this figure was provided.

Requests to the Department of Social Protection press office for additional information didn’t help much.

… In 2013, the Comptroller and Auditor General annual report included a section on welfare overpayment debt.

The report concluded that, from 2007 to 2011, 50 per cent of all overpayments were due to error (44 per cent by the client and 6 per cent by the department), while 38 per cent of overpayments were due to fraud.

This pattern was confirmed in a parliamentary question from Varadkar on May 31, 2016 which stated that 21 per cent of identified overpayments in 2015 were fraudulent, 30 per cent in 2014 and 32 per cent in 2013. In each of these three years the total number of overpaid claims was between 80,000 and 90,000, with fraudulent claims falling from 27,000 in 2013 to 21,000 in 2015.

The conclusion to be drawn from the figures is that the number of fraudulent claims is small and that overpayments due to errors by claimants or department staff are more significant.

The big question, of course, is how much this costs the taxpayer. Thankfully Varadkar’s parliamentary question replies are a lot clearer than his press releases.

The same PQ from May 2016 states that the cost of all overpayments in 2015 was €115 million, of which €48 million was due to fraud. The figures for 2014 were €124 million and €52 million; for 2013 they were €127 million and €61 million.

So not only are errors more frequent than fraud in our social welfare system, they are also costing the taxpayer more.

While a large sum of money is recouped each year (€82 million in 2016, €80 million in 2015, €82 million in 2014) it is significantly less than the overpayments discovered each year. So the total amount of overpayment debt owed to the state continues to rise – reaching €437 million in 2015.

What is not clear from the above data is where Varadkar is getting his information that €500 million was saved through anti-fraud measures in 2016. This figure is clearly not the amount of money saved by identifying overpayments. Nor does it bear any relation to actual incidents of fraud in 2016.

But who cares? It makes for a good headline when launching a campaign to tackle one of society’s big problems.

Eoin Ó Broin: Varadkar’s figures just don’t add up (Sunday Business Post)

Pics: Irish Times and Fiona Hyde

Listen back to interview in full here


File Photo The association representing mid-ranking gardaí has said there is a crisis of confidence in An Garda Síochána and it is up to garda management to address it. The mood among garda sergeants and inspectors at their annual conference in Killarney, in the wake of the recent controversies over wrongful convictions and false breath tests, is one of apprehension and a sense that they are being blamed. End. A Garda stops a car at a checkpoint on the N3 in Dublin during a two day road safety blitz on major routes around the country. Garda checkpoints are in operation on fifteen national roads to ensure all drivers and passengers are wearing seatbelts. Thirteen per cent of male drivers, and over half of back-seat passengers, do not wear seatbelts.11/5/2006 Photo:Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie


From top: Garda checkpoint; Road Safety Authority CEO Moyagh Murdock

You might recall the near one million breath tests that An Garda Síochána recorded taking between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2016… but didn’t.

Readers might wish to note, in June 2016, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) published a report, stating:

983 fatal collisions occurred on Irish roads between 2008 and 2012, claiming the lives of 1,077 people. The forensic details of 867 fatal collisions were analysed to identify the cause of the collisions – of these, alcohol was a main contributory factor in 330 collisions, claiming the lives of 366 people.  A further 69 people were seriously injured.

This afternoon.

Moyagh Murdock, the Chief Executive Officer of the RSA, spoke to Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ Radio One about road safety and drink driving.

They briefly discussed the false Garda figures.

Ray D’Arcy: “Did you have suspicions [about the false figures]?”

Moyagh Murdock: “Well, I think we certainly were concerned that the number of traffic corps available to do these was significantly reduced. The Behaviours and Attitudes surveys tell us that people don’t expect to get stopped, there have been a significant number of months or even years since the last time they’d got stopped. So that would be very…”

D’Arcy: “Didn’t add up?”

Murdock: “Didn’t add up. That’s all we could say, at that point, was that they didn’t add up. We also..”

D’Arcy: “How did you feel when you heard that?”

Murdock: “When I heard the number of one million? I was completely stunned I have to say…”


Murdock: “What was really worrying is many policy decisions are made on the basis of statistics that we’re given. So we came from a period of very safe roads. The numbers of people being killed on our roads were declining. Yet, we could probably say that the number of breath tests were going up so traffic corps are going to get de-prioritised and we saw the numbers go down. So, you know, publishing the wrong numbers influences the decision of where to send the actual resources where they’re needed and we’re now seeing an increase in the number of people being killed on our roads so these things…”

D’Arcy: “Are you making a direct connection between the two?”

Murdock: “Well, I think there has to be. You know. We look and see what the underlying reasons are for collisions out there, all of the time, foreseeing that people are being breath tested and there is only a small number that are failing. Well then obviously, you have to ask the question, it mustn’t be drink driving that’s killing these people. But..”

D’Arcy: “But it is. We know that..”

Murdock: “It is. We know that. And we know in Ireland, the most recent research we’ve done, up to 29% of drivers have alcohol in their system that was a contributory cause [in fatal accidents]. We look at our near neighbours, in the UK, and that level is at 14% so, you know, we have to close that gap.”


D’Arcy: “Somebody has come up with a figure that a fatal, somebody who dies on the road costs the State, or is it a fatal crash, costs the State €2.7million?

Murdock:That’s correct…”

D’Arcy: “How does that figure come about?”

Murdock: “That was carried out by, we got, I think it was Pricewaterhouse [Cooper] did it for us, carrying out the number of lives affected, the cost to the State for rehabilitation, the cost to the State for the loss of someone contributing as a taxpayer, the cost of support services, the cost of all the emergency services…”

D’Arcy: “A fatal crash costs €2.7million.”

Murdock: “It does, yeah.”



Reading From Book of Dark Blue
after Leo Varadkar, WB Yeats, and Enda Kenny

We are for the Ireland that rolls
laughing out of its bed every morning, those
whose national anthem is the alarm
clock exploding on the bedside locker and it still dark;

who, even August bank holidays, are
in the shed before five a.m.
fashioning origami former Garda
commissioners, or writing violin concertos in praise
of the Little Sisters of the Bon Viveur,
Blessed K.T. Whittaker and anyone else
who got up ridiculously early
to make this country what it
allegedly isn’t.

We represent those who know should they fall
up a ladder, or for some other reason –
be it insanity or baldness –
be unable to properly function,
we in government will do nothing
except, if they’re lucky, repeatedly
knee them in the nasty bits.

We whose ancestors have eaten
the still throbbing heart of General O’Duffy
(or at least what we thought was his heart)
now see leaflets tumbling through respectable letter boxes
in which cretin and comedian crow their gutless song,
their arguments a bladder bloated with animal blood.

We say, down the disposal pipe
with all these and their cries
of avarice and failure,
those who engage in wilful wastage of water
by sitting there all day – the jets
fizzing up their crevices –
in Jacuzzis given them
by the tax payer.

Drown them in the tank
and bill them for their own extinction,
for they are weasels who’d drink
of your chickens until they’re dry.

We are for people who look both ways twice
when crossing the road
and remember where they left their keys.

Kevin Higgins

Kevin Higgins

Pic: General Eoin O’Higgins (Hulton/Getty)


From top: Last Monday and Tuesday’s Irish Independent

Of the Independent’s subtle Fine Gael leadership campaign coverage…

Noel Whelan, writing in today’s Irish Times

Independent newspapers in particular seem determined to make relationship status an issue in this race. I have followed media coverage of Simon Coveney as closely as many political commentators over the past 16 years but I don’t think I have ever seen a picture of him with his wife or members of his family before the Independent decided to run one on its front or second page each day last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

These photos of Coveney were always juxtaposed beside one of Leo Varadkar on his own.

Independent newspapers have also run tittle-tattle stories about Varadkar’s own relationship and a series of columns devoted, at least in part, to suggesting that it matters who our taoiseach’s spouse would be.

It echoes the suggestion touted by Bertie Ahern’s opponents in the early 1990s that the “people needed to know where their taoiseach sleeps at night”. It was insidious then. One would have thought that 25 years later we would have moved on from such nonsense.

It is particularly strange that a newspaper would be doing this, whether for reasons of adding clickbait or colour to coverage of the leadership contest or due to other motives. We should judge our next taoiseach on his or her own ability to do the job and to exercise real authority and deliver stability to our politics. The sooner the changeover happens the better.

Noel Whelan: We are about to have another caretaker government (irish Times)



Leo Varadkar outside Him barbers, Ballygall, Dublin 9 today/strong>

“I’m not going to make my personal life and my family life an issue in any campaign and I hope and trust others won’t do either.:

Leo Varadkar announcing his Fine Gael leadership bid this afternoon.

Varadkar hopes personal life will not feature in leadership contest (RTÉ)


File Photo: Reports have come out of the Fine Gael PP meeting last night, prior to the No Confidence debate in the Dail, that the two ’Big Beast’s’ in the race to succeed Enda Kenny as leader of Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney, joined forces to propose that FG prepare for a General Election. Thus forcing the Taoiseachs hand in setting a date for the transfer of power to a new leader.End. 29/05/2013. L TO R. Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar with Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny officially open Irish Sport HQ On behalf of the National Sports Campus. Photo: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Leo Varadkar and Enda Kenny

He’s just a very ordinary minister.

Martin McMahon writes:

Back in the Charles J day, Haughey was more than shrewd enough to have the measure of his would-be successor. Of Bertie Ahern he said:

“He’s the man. He’s the best, the most skillful, the most devious, and the most cunning of them all”

There was a strong element of ‘it takes one to know one’ in Haughey’s remark. Charlie knew people; he knew what made them tick (or thick); he knew the buttons he could press and the ones not to press in order to achieve the best political outcome for himself.

Charlie’s people skills undoubtedly revealed a high emotional intelligence which he used to ruthlessly manipulate others and become the dominant politician of his generation. Haughey never allowed himself to be upstaged by his eventual successor.

The same cannot be said of Enda Kenny. Despite his best efforts to marginalise Leo in the Angola Ministries of Health and Social Protection, Leo has managed to shine brighter than Enda.

One might be tempted to think that Leo is the man, the most skillful, possibly the most devious or maybe the most cunning of them all.

One would be wrong.

The writing is on the wall for Enda. Pretty much everybody knows this except, of course, for the Taoiseach himself. Even if he does defy popular public opinion and insist on limping on, his days as Taoiseach and Fine Gael party leader are numbered. A voter-friendly face is essential to the party faithful.

Leo has become a ‘Daaahling‘ of established media types. His gaffe prone history is conveniently forgotten in the scramble to counter the inexorable return of Fianna Fáil.

No matter how dismal, cynical or self-serving his performance, he is relentlessly flogged by the mainstream media as something he most certainly is not.

This MSM fabricated version of Leo was perfectly encapsulated back in 2014 by RTÉs Drivetime in an analysis by Health Correspondent Sara Burke of Leo’s first six months as Health Minister:

“I think he’s fared very well. It’s the first time we’ve had a competent Minister for Health. It’s early days but he’s hardly put a foot wrong. He’s been really good at preempting crises. He preempted the really high numbers we saw in E.Ds (Emergency Departments). He’s very good at dampening expectations. The weekend before an extremely critical HIAQ report on ambulance services, he went out on the Saturday night with the ambulances.

He made that really nuanced, excellent speech in the Dail on Clare Daly’s proposal in relation to abortion before the story broke of the pregnant woman who’s clinically dead in the Midlands……..

Critically I think Leo’s done two things, he’s brought political news to the point which has been really missing now and he seems to have the support of the Cabinet behind him and critically the support of the Economic Management Council and that’s how he managed to achieve (prevent) any more cuts to Health and a slight increase but also he’s brought clarity and direction setting out a clear stall with his top ten priorities.”

This MSM position is a master class in cognitive dissonance. Leo did not fare well as Health Minister. He was forced to row back on the key plank of the Government’s health reforms, Universal Health Insurance.

Far from preventing cuts to the Health budget, Leo consistently backed his own party on every single callous cut resulting in longer waiting lists, front line under-staffing and A & Es that do actually resemble battle fronts in third world countries.

All of his predecessors in Health also had lists of priorities. Reilly, Harney and Martin were not considered ‘competent’ simply because they had a ‘list’ of what they wanted to achieve.

That leaves only what’s described as Leo’s ‘Preempting’ of crises. Had James Reilly mooched around ambulances the weekend before a damning HIQA report came out he would have been rightly crucified by MSM for creating a self-serving photo opportunity to deflect from his own personal responsibility in creating the very crisis he was ‘preempting’.

There is no difference between what Leo does and a politician kissing babies in public whilst cutting children’s allowance in private.

As for his ‘preemptive’ nuanced, excellent speech in relation to abortion, rarely have we seen such blatantly cynical politicking. An issue that should have been about the rights of women was instead hijacked and spun by Leo to suit Leo’s favourite subject, Leo’s phantom largesse.

So absurd was Leo’s statement at the time, that Kenny distanced the party by rationalising it with a comfortable yet unbelievable illusion that Leo was speaking in a personal capacity and not as the Minister for Health as Leo claimed, a ploy repeated by Enda in regard to Ms Zappone’s activities.

In Social Protection Leo is a ghost, occasionally he issues a statement which is pounced upon by RTÉ where statements from other Ministers gain little if any purchase.

His comment that Maurice McCabe is a heroic whistle blower deserving of a full apology reaches a new low in self serving cynicism from a party that had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the Maurice McCabe debacle.

Leo, like Fine Gael, is not devious, skillful or cunning. It’s not that they don’t try, but the fact remains that like much of Fine Gael’s time in government they have proved to be no better than Fianna Fáil and they are a damn sight short of Fianna Fail’s ability to fool people for any meaningful length of time.

Martin blogs at RamshornRepublic


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Fine Gael Minister for Social Affairs, Leo Varadkar talking to the media outside Dublin Castle this morning

Daniel McConnell, on Breakingnews.ie, reports:

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has expressed his frustration at being constantly linked with the leadership of Fine Gael….

Speaking this morning at an event at Dublin Castle, Mr Varadkar denied his plan to radically overhaul the social welfare system is part of his bid to succeed Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who will not lead the party into the next General Election.

“No matter what I say or do for the past six months, some people are linking [me] to the leadership of Fine Gael…I am just waiting on the day when I sit on the toilet and some commentator somewhere decides that is part of some strategy.”

Varadkar ‘waiting on the day I sit on toilet and someone says it’s part of a leadership strategy’ (Daniel McConnell, Breakingnews)

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

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Former health minister, now Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar

Ahead of the Dáil voting on Thursday, June 30, on a referendum bill proposed by Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace, which would allow for abortions in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities…

Newstalk reports:

[Former Health] Minister Leo Varadkar says the 8th Amendment was not considered fully and properly before being added to the Constitution.

Leo Varadkar says considering the repeal of the amendment should not be rushed.

However he conceded that it cannot be put on the long finger either.

Part of the reason why our abortion laws have given us so much trouble in this country is because we put an amendment into the Constitution in 1983 without considering it fully and properly,” he suggested.!

8th Amendment was not considered ‘fully and properly’ – Leo Varadkar (Newstalk)

Previously: ‘By Law, Nobody Could Help Us’

Was It Really Unconstitutional?

How Soon Is Now



Leo Varadkar, at the unveiling of new ministers last month

Leo Varadkar, new Minister for Social Protection  went on RTÉ’s News at One with Aine Lawlor to discuss the new unemployment figures and his plans to copy the Conservatives  get people, including the disabled, off welfare and into work.

A small tay.

Leo: “Particularly what we’ll be doing in the Department of Social Protection is we’ll be targeting the groups that haven’t managed to get back into work – you know, assisting people with disabilities, one-parent families, also long-term unemployed. So we have Jobs Plus already which is a grant to employers to particularly take somebody off the live register, we have the Wage Subsidy Scheme which assists people with disabilities and particularly now, with…”

Aine Lawlor:
“You don’t have to list them off now, minister. But I suppose the question that arises there and a question that’s going to be debated and particularly watched carefully, coming from the Left, is whether these kinds of schemes are simply another version of what the Left would call Tory workfare.

Leo Varadkar: “Yeah, I’m not sure what they mean by that. I suppose, in my view, you know, any form of work is of value and, if we can take people who are on welfare system, get work and training, there’s always value in that.
But the key thing which I think is of crucial importance is that there is progression and you did see in the past, you know, a lot of people going on schemes, particularly the not exclusively Community Employment schemes and going from those back on to welfare.
And what we want is people progressing from welfare to work and from part-time and low-paid jobs to full-time and better paid jobs and that requires a cross Government approach. But, you know, I don’t like the view that does come from some people on the Left that, you know, some jobs are not worth having. I don’t think that’s the right attitude and I don’t think most people in society would share that view.”


Listen back in full here

Yesterday: Paul Murphy: Not Fit To Work


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Health Minister Leo Varadkar

Health Minister Leo Varadkar spoke to Keelin Shanley on RTÉ’s Today with Seán O’Rourke this morning following the announcement that An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission for the new children’s hospital on a campus shared with St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

During their discussion, they talked about Irish Water and Mr Varadkar was asked if he’d like Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny’s job.

Grab a tay…

Leo Varadkar: “The fact that they [Fianna Fáil] went to the wire and threatened an election and not to facilitate a Government on water, I just think is ridiculous..”

Keelin Shanley: “So you think Fianna Fáil’s negotiating point of view is ridiculous – is that what you’re saying?”

Varadkar: “I just, I just think that of all the issues to pick, you know, of all the issues to drive us to the brink of a general election, to threaten not to support a minority government, of all the issues they could have picked like I really  thought maybe they would say, you know, that we insist that Ireland must develop a national health service over the next five years, you must find the 3 or 4 million to do it, you know, you need to drop your promises on the USC – not at all. You know it was all down to water charges that cost €3 a week and the worst thing is, you know, and you know water charges are being suspended – they’re not being abolished – but it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s not in the public interest to do this. And yet this is the issue…”

Shanley: “So why are you doing it? Were you not able to stand up to them on it?”

Varadkar: “Well we haven’t, what we did stand up to, we said we wouldn’t give up on the principle of a national utility, we don’t think Irish Water should be broke back and everything sent back to 30-something local authorities, I don’t think even deep down Fianna Faáil believes that that’s a good idea even though that was their policy. And on water charges what we’ve agreed is a suspension for nine months and during that period we will continue to make the case in favour of water charges. And I’m in favour of water charges. I was in favour of them in 2011 and I was in favour of them in this general election and I always told me that this is the right thing they should do and they should pay those and I keep saying that. There’s two reasons: one because it’s the only way people will conserve water, it should be metered and it should be charged for it. And secondly, we actually need a dedicated stream of income to upgrade our water and sewerage services, to get rid of boil notices, to get rid of the situation where we’re still putting sewage into our rivers and our seas. And it’s a real disappointment to me that that Fianna Fáil wants us to go back on water and like it was actually Fianna Fáil in 2010 that started this, before the Troika arrived, they can’t even blame the Troika.”


Varadkar: “Maybe we will have to fight an election sooner rather than later, I’d actually rather we fight an election on those things [economy, housing] then on the issue of water. I just think that would have been a nonsense. I actually think that the people would have been very annoyed about it and would have been, ‘a plague on all your houses’.”

Shanley: “So you think everyone would have done badly out of an election on water. What was your thinking for Fine Gael going to the electorate on the basis of water. You know your option there was either an election or give way on water.”

Varadkar: “Yeah I just, I just think it would have been insane to have an election on Irish Water.”

Shanley: “Would you have lost further seats do you believe?”

Varadkar: “Possibly I don’t know, possibly not, it’s impossible to judge that but like I say, we have an opportunity now to form a minority government it’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be difficult and it’s going to be different but, you know, Government’s really tough but it can also give you the opportunity to do wonderful things and things like the Children’s Hospital are exactly why you do all the bad days because there are great days too and you can only do that when you’re in Government.”


Shanley: “Will he [Enda Kenny] lead the party into the next election?”

Varadkar: “Well, he’s already said that he won’t.”

Shanley: “Are you interested in the job?”

Varadkar: “Ask me when the vacancy arises. I’m down on so many other things but, like I say, that’s not for today.”

Shanley: “Ok, Minister Leo Varadkar thank you very much indeed for coming out to us this morning.”

Listen back here