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"It is definitely a lot harder to stay in than to come out"

The Health Minister was speaking on RTÉ’s The Ray D’Arcy’s Show this afternoon.
Jun 4th 2015, 5:05 PM 16,584 72

IRELAND’S FIRST OPENLY gay cabinet minister, Leo Varadkar has described how, “it is definitely a lot harder to stay in than to come out”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Ray D’Arcy Show this afternoon in the same studio where he came out publicly as gay back in January, he said that doing so had benefited his life.

When asked whether he had noticed any change in the way that people interacted with him, he said, “If anything people are probably a bit warmer in the sense that when you expose your vulnerabilities to the world in the way that I did, people feel that they know you a bit better than they did before.”

Prior to the January interview, he described how he had experienced, “irrational anxieties about how your life is going to change, and it doesn’t really. At least it didn’t for me.

‘A quiet time in the news cycle’

Speaking about the January radio interview, the Fine Gael Minister said that he had wanted to come out at “a quiet time in the news cycle”, saying, “well you know what people are like politics. People would accuse you of trying to change the media agenda by talking about yourself.”

On the result of the same-sex marriage referendum, he said that he felt that, “the best thing for most people was the fact that the result was clear across the country. I thought it would pass, I always did think it would. But I thought it might have been Dublin and the east coast pulling the rest of the country along.”

The fact that we were sort of winning in Mayo and Donegal and west Cork and west Limerick and even some smaller market towns getting 60 or 70 per cent of the vote said a lot about the country. Said something very good about the country.

Plans for the health service

The interview then went on to cover Varadkar’s ongoing time in the Department of Health.

On this, he said, “If you look back at the last couple of health ministers, none of them solved all the problems, I don’t think I can do that. But they can all point to big things they did that really made a difference.”

He cited the work-place smoking ban introduced by Micheál Martin; the cancer strategy introduced by Mary Harney and an expansion of screenings introduced by James Reilly as areas where former Ministers had been successful.

Read: Children won’t get vaccines for TB until June, but Leo says it’s not a problem

Also: 8 reasons why Ireland voted YES to same-sex marriage

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Michael Sheils McNamee

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