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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (file photo) Sam Boal/
Mighty Hoopla

Varadkar criticised for attending music festival in London on Electric Picnic weekend

A spokeswoman said the Tánaiste is currently in the UK “on private time, where such events are allowed”.

LAST UPDATE | 5 Sep 2021

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has been criticised for attending a music festival in London this weekend.

The Fine Gael leader was criticised by people from the Irish music and live entertainment industry after a photo of him at the Mighty Hoopla festival in Brockwell Park yesterday was widely shared online.

After almost 18 months of uncertainty, the Government last week announced plans for the entertainment industry to reopen here.

However, festivals such as Electric Picnic were cancelled. EP was initially due to take place in Stradbally this weekend but the date was pushed back to later this month before it was cancelled altogether.

People attending Mighty Hoopla had to present proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test result. Cheryl Cole, Alexandra Burke and Atomic Kitten were among the acts at the one-day festival.

Oonagh Murphy tweeted a picture of Varadkar at the concert, stating: “Interesting that Leo Varadkar has come to a festival in the UK today, while failing to commit to a plan for the Irish entertainment industry.”

A spokeswoman for Varadkar said the Tánaiste is currently in the UK “on private time, where such events are allowed”.

The spokeswoman told The Journal that Varadkar is “one of the strongest supporters of the events industry in Government”.

“He supported Electric Picnic going ahead and helped secure the re-opening plan for concerts and other big events beginning on Monday with capacity limits and vaccination certificates, moving to full capacity next month.

“The industry has received over €100m in financial support from Government, not including the EWSS (Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme) and PUP (Pandemic Unemployment Payment),” she added.

A number of people online have noted that politicians are entitled to a social life, but said it is hypocritical for one of the leaders of the country to go abroad to attend a concert that is not allowed to take place here.

Mark Graham, who produces the Irish Music Industry Podcast, tweeted: “On the weekend that Electric Picnic was meant to be on, here is Leo Varadkar at the unsegregated full-on full capacity Might Hoopla Festival London. Entry with Covid passport or PCR test. Angry? Please let him and his colleagues who have crippled our entertainment industry know.”

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín tweeted: “Musicians in Ireland have a right to be furious over how they have been treated.”

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Brendan O’Connor programme, former Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell said Varadkar’s attendance at the festival was “tone deaf”, given the sacrifices Irish people continue to make and the length of time the live events industry has been shut down here.

From tomorrow, organised indoor events and mass gatherings in Ireland will be permitted to reopen up to 60% capacity and 75% of outdoor capacity for those who are vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months.

Where people attending these events have mixed immunity status, the capacity limit will be 50%, subject to appropriate protective measures including social distancing between groups and face masks.

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