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"I'm sure Ireland will recover...": David Norris's very David Norris response to Leo

Meanwhile, one of Fine Gael’s more conservative TDs says she appreciates the move will be consoling to young people who are gay.

Updated at 10.30am

THERE WERE MORE positive words for Leo Varadkar this morning, following the health minister’s decision to speak publicly about his sexuality for the first time.

The Fine Gael politician spoke about his personal life to Miriam O’Callaghan yesterday on Radio 1, telling the host “I am a gay man, it’s not a secret but it’s not something that everyone would necessarily know, but it isn’t something that I’ve spoken publicly about before”.

Varadkar said  he “wanted to be honest with people” ahead of the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum.

Veteran equality campaigner Senator David Norris hailed the decision this morning as “a brave, honest, direct thing to do”.

“That’s what I would expect of Leo Varadkar,” Norris told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“In my limited dealings with him in the Senate, I found him to be clear, capable and honourable.

He said he thought Varadkar would be an “admirable role model” for young gay people growing up, and added:

“Gay people certainly of my generation, and I think even still have a lack of firm and authoritative and good and positive role models.

“And I think it’s very encouraging for a young person coming to terms with their sexuality to see someone who commands the respect of the public and his political colleagues who is intelligent and clear and direct.”

Leo Varadkar with Miriam O'Callaghan yesterday. Source: Julien Behal

Many commentators noted yesterday that Irish society was evolving towards a situation where a person’s sexuality wouldn’t be worth remarking upon.

In that vein, Norris noted that he was “sure Ireland will recover from the shock.”

“I didn’t know that he was gay — but then again I don’t have any ‘gaydar’ as they call it. I’m not interested in other people’s sexual lives.

Other European countries have had cabinet ministers who are gay and they’ve survived without any great disaster.

Chairman of the Oireachtas health committee Jerry Buttimer, who publicly came out as gay in 2012, said Varadkar had “struck a blow for equality” with the move.

He said the vast majority of people in Ireland wouldn’t treat the Minister any differently as a result. Buttimer noted that society had “moved on” on the issue and said there was now an atmosphere of acceptance around it.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael’s Michelle Mulherin — who’s made the news in the past as a result of her conservative views on a number of social issues — said she wasn’t surprised by the announcement.

“I’d like to think we’re at a point in our society where we have debunked all myths to do with people’s capability of doing a job,” Mulherin said.

“You can do a job regardless of whether you’re man or a woman, regardless of your creed your race or your sexual orientation

These things are not relevant as far as I’m concerned. Why should he have to come out? Why should anybody who’s doing a job have to come out and say — even if you’re a politician — what your sexual orientation is.

She said she appreciated that Varadkar’s decision would be consoling to young people who are gay, and said it wouldn’t have any impact on her opinion of the health minister.

“Whatever you are and whoever you are, whatever your orientation, whatever your colour, creed is — politicians as well — you have to try and be yourself. There has to be an integrity about whatever you do.”

Read: Leo Varadkar is off the booze for January >

Read: Leo’s warning: Junior doctor changeover and flu cases could cause more problems >

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