Nudge Nudge Wink Wink



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)


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80 thoughts on “Nudge Nudge Wink Wink

  1. Harry Molloy

    ah now, I don’t know if I can agree with this, most newspapers would love Leo to get the job because he’s so easy to write about compared with a blander (though maybe more competent?) Coveny

    1. realPolithicks

      Lets not try to pretend that this talk of “relationship status” is anything other than a reference to Varadkar’s sexuality. We probably shouldn’t expect anything else from a right wing rag like the irish independent.

    1. Steve

      The clintons and obamas might disagree. I reckon you do your job better, in any walk of life, with a strong family/circle of relationships around ye.

      I for one welcome the movement towards American style personality politics. Makes it more interesting.

      1. whut

        im 37 and single with no kids. Which allows me to put more energy and focus into work, even when i had girlfriends it would conflict with work time to time. id imagine if i had a family to mind and tend to i wouldnt be as focused on work as i could be.

        1. Spaghetti Hoop

          Can’t agree more. Would only consider marriage if retired and actually had sufficient time to invest into the partnership.

          1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

            On thinking about it, I’m going to divorce my husband and abandon my child. It’s the only way to get ahead.

      2. Spaghetti Hoop

        But what if those within that ‘strong circle’ are clearly profiteering from your position? Does not look good. The politician that leaves his/her private life at home gets more respect in my book.

        1. Steve

          @spag , if they are profiteering illegally from political connections, obviously that isn’t healthy.

          My point re. Strong, was around emotional support for a role as difficult as being a politician where most people want to make a positive difference to society but have to deal with people like 15p…see below.

          Barack has always said he was a better president for having the emotional and strong support of Michelle.

          1. Spaghetti Hoop

            No doubt Charlie Haughey had enormous support from Terry Keane in his personal life – doesn’t mean you should parade your lovers on the political stage.

          2. Anne

            Well if Barack said it…

            You don’t have to be doing the horizontal hokey pokey with anyone to be getting emotional support. Your dog could give you everything you need.

            Your normal or what Barack gets from Michelle lol means fupp all to anyone.

          3. Frilly Keane

            Ah would ye all just cop on

            The role of First Lady is not without substance for the electorate

            So stop acting the bollix

            It makes eff’all difference here in this jurisdiction
            Until the other half lands a gig that comes with a pension the size of an oil find

    2. Scundered

      In fact if they don’t have a spouse they might be more committed to their career by having fewer responsibilities.

  2. Grandthanksmasterflash

    Politics and policies aside, it would feel like another nail in the old catholic Ireland coffin if a gay man was our leader.

  3. Ivor

    There’s a growing trend in journalism to camouflage old-style sensationalistic pieces with worthy language. They publish stories like this because nosy parkers across the country want to know who is gay, who slept with yer wan, who cheated on their spouse and all sorts of other things that have no business being published. They justify it by hiding this information in a piece about image etc.

    Why image matters me arse! This article was published because somebody got their hands on a couple of Leo’s Facebook photos in which you can see his boyfriend and needed some text to go with the pictures without looking like the Sunday People.

      1. Steve

        Image has mattered in politics since Plato was spinning his wheels. Politicians just have to accept it.

        It’s more annoying to hear them come out saying “I really hope people ignore image details and focus on policy”….like Leo did on RTE about 2 hours ago.

        1. ivan


          as a matter of interest do YOU think people should ignore image details and focus on policy? Or by finding that sentiment annoying, is it your position that really, fupp policy, let’s just focus on where people like to put their micky?

          (I do appreciate that there are numerous opinion positions along the line but you’ve only identified where you’re *not*)

          1. Steve

            No ivan Ivor igor I just think it’s part and parcel of politics . You should defo not ignore policy in the same way you should defo not ignore image.

          2. ivan

            Fair enough. It’s just when you said above “I for one welcome the movement towards American style personality politics.” it occured to me that your view was that

            a) we *were* focussed on policy things but
            b) we’re moving the other way and
            c) you approve and would even appreciate a further move in that direction

            From an entertainment point of view, I heartily concur. Just, I think we’ve had enough effing jokers who wouldn’t know a policy/position/principle if it bit them on the behind, and as a people we could possibly do with getting the same jokers dragged back there to learn. About principles and policies and so forth, rather than ‘sure haven’t i a great personality’

            Anyway, sure we’ll see what happens!

  4. bisted

    …240 years since School for Scandal was first performed…just shows scurrilous press never change…except, Sheridan was much better at it than Fionnan or Whelan…

  5. Spaghetti Hoop

    I find spouses in political settings really cringey and very unnecessary. Maybe fine for a state dinner or a holiday or something. If anyone has been following Penelope-gate will know that spouses are actually harmful to political careers and blur allegiances. It shouldn’t sway a voter but I would be more inclined to vote for the politician that keeps their private life at home.

  6. 15p

    regardless of their spouses, neither will make a good leader because of the party theyre with, and that parties idiologies and conduct. both have also shown views deeply routed in right-wing agenda. dont want anyone in FG, or FF for that matter.. but the plebian hordes across the land who vote for them are too heavy in number.. so we’re forever lumped with these self-serving parties who run the country like their own private business, and we are the mistreated workers.

    1. Steve

      Oh why can’t the ignorant masses be released from their shackles and understand the truth of the world that I figured out in 2nd year UCD politics reading A Critique of Political Economy

      Lol….neigh neigh come down off your sanctimonious horse

      1. 15p

        i never went to college, but i didn’t have to go to college to see how clearly a bad job FF and FG have done. My reasons for voting against them are obvious, but what are your reasons for voting for them?

      1. 15p

        ah rob_g, still sullying my good name. i don’t think cleverness has anything to do with it. neither was i talking about ‘everything i believe in’ .. there are various reasons people vote FF/FG regardless of having so much evidence of their bad governance. some reasons include, the whole family always vote that party, the local rep got the road fixed, and so on and so on. i think if you know the damage these parties have done to the country, and still vote for them, it’s down to something other than not being clever. whatever it is that’s happening, yes, i do wish people would stop voting for them. because im so tired of seeing their negative impact every day. although you said before, that they got employment down, and for that sole reason you support them. now that is down to not being clever. you vote for them for that, and waive all the misgivings because of it. that really does make you not as clever as me. but thats the world.. there are people not as clever as other people. a good example being myself and you.

        1. Rob_G

          Maybe you didn’t want to imply that you were more clever than the people who vote for FF or FG, but by referring to them as “plebian hordes”, you can kind of maybe see why I might have thought that…

    2. Pat Harding

      The alternative being the same boring and visionless Irish left who beat the same drum (a) Hospital Trolleys (b) the elite (c) Social housing.

      It’s the stock propaganda spouted by Sinn Fein and the Workers Party. Which they have spouting since time immemorial.

      But where is their vision (other than the Government should give me more)

      As for the very boring Fine Gael contenders. Coveney is an amiable chap, but not very bright, conservative and lacking in imagination. Varadker probably smarter, but no more than most, but whose ambition exceeds his ability. Remember, the really bright people don’t go into politics, consequently you end up with career politicians who belong to glorified marketing agencies (political parties) whose sole objective is the obtaining and retention of power.

  7. Jonickal

    Leo is gay. That’s what they’re trying to remind us here.
    These articles are written for the FG membership who might tend towards Simon if they’re still uncomfortable with a gay party leader.
    Sexuality aside, I’m not sure why Indo prefer Simon over Leo.

  8. Lyndyloola

    ….Finooola even. Whatever her name is she shouldn’t be looking for money on pub floors of a Tuesday.

    1. Mary Jane

      Simon hasn’t stuttered since he was 15, but yes he once couldn’t pronounce Peter pecker picked a piece of pickled pepper!

  9. Otis Blue

    Rather than focus on two fairly dull personalities why not let us know about their stance (and track record) on issues important to the electorate?

    The thought of what either do in the bedroom is not an attractive one.

    1. PaddyM


      I don’t give a damn as to who or what gender (or indeed species) they sleep with or what their skin colour is. I’d like to know what the implications of each would be in terms of policy changes and how those changes might affect the rest of us.

      It would be deeply ironic if the “woke” Twitterati and Broadsheet commentariat end up flocking towards an economically hard right candidate because of their sexuality or skin colour. It would also be darkly funny except for the fact that the rest of us would be left to deal with the consequences.

      I’ve seen the argument made that “at least Leo PM might annoy some of the right people”. The type of people he’s most likely to annoy will be water protestors, people on hospital waiting lists, kids in leaky classrooms, people without a permanent roof over their heads.
      David Quinn, on the other hand, is quite likely to be absolutely delighted with a Leo-style “classical liberal” economic policy.

    2. PaddyM

      To be fair, the one thing that I would say in favour of Leo is that [REDACTED] seems to have it in for him.

  10. Clampers Outside!

    Candidate with Wife & Child has Greater Photo Ops Than Candidate Without….. shocker.

    People Vote For People Who Reflect Themselves Thus Disadvantaging Those Who Do Not Reflect The Voter… shocker.

    These could be churned out ad nauseum…..

    1. ivan

      I think both of your mock headlines are probably (sadly) true, Clampers, but that’s not the point here. Same goes for ‘Idiots Vote For Bloke Who’ll Fix The Road’

      However, the crux of this is that there’s an oh-so-subtle whiff of homophobia off of this (and maybe, as you intimate it’s the Indo pandering to their audience) and it’s rather unkind.

      At best it’s the Sunday World-isation of news, and an excuse (as noted above) to just trawl Leo’s FB and grab a few photos.

      At worst it’s a making-a-sledge-hammer-look-positively-subtle-by-comparison reminder to the punters that he’s a Poove And Probably Not The Sound Choice Unlike The Nice Married-To-A-Nice-Girl-Other-Chap.

      1. Clampers Outside!

        …more playing to the crowd, I think… they still sell papers after all :)

        Say…. the largest voting cohort were single men in their 40s who liked cycling and wearing lyrcra…. sure Kenny would be in again before you could say….. ‘stop the lights! Bunny’

      2. ivan

        It occurs to me we’re of similar vintage so answer me this….

        Quicksilver – the show that spawned ‘Stop The Lights’…did i just dream it or used it end with Ann O’Dwyer singing for the audience?

          1. ivan

            no – i KNOW she sang on that, but i’m talking before live at 3, you young whippersnapper… :D

            actually just had a google and it seems that what’s conflustering me is a predecessor of Live at 3 called ‘Going Strong’ which was presented by Bunny Carr and Ann O’Dywer, so maybe that’s it.

  11. Frilly Keane

    c’mere that says there that
    Leo announced his leadership campaign outside the barber ship
    if Frances Fitz announced outside Peter Marks ye’d be on it like a bonnet

  12. Kenny Plank

    On the other hand we have Una Mullally coming out with this kind of guff in the Irish without declaring her interest as being appointed to a position by a member of the current government, appointed to a cabinet position by er, the leader of Fine Gael and one who is likely to end up in Fine Gael if the Phoenix can be believed: Zappone.

    Una Mullally: Do most people really care who the next Fine Gael leader is?

    Una Mullally cares as long as the leader is gay. It’s all identification politics wth her.

  13. bisted

    …what does it matter…they won’t be around for long…the next election will see the FFers as the largest party and the shinners as king-makers. After an obligatory round of hand wringing it’ll be aFF/SF government. At least the decisions presented by brexit will be made by a republican government…

    1. Rob_G

      Hmmm – I wouldn’t be so sure. I think it will be a FF-led minority govt, with FG adopting the role that is currently occupied by FF. This would suit both parties’ interests better than allowing SF into government.

      1. bisted

        …yep…your prediction Frilly and I usually acknowledge…in fact, Stephen Donnelly defecting from the Soc Dems should save having to rely on them to make up the numbers and will smooth the way for government formation…

          1. bisted

            …hope FG elect somebody arrogant enough to seek a new mandate and call a snap election…the FFers are playing a blinder…to control the opposition and call the tune in government is some going…

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