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autograph requests

Read the emails sent to Leo in his first month as Taoiseach

People wanted to talk to Varadkar about the Pride Parade, the Eighth Amendment and the cost of rent.

leo Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Brian Lawless / PA Wire/PA Images Brian Lawless / PA Wire/PA Images / PA Wire/PA Images

ON 14 JUNE 2017 Leo Varadkar became Taoiseach, succeeding Enda Kenny.

Politicians often receive emails and letters from members of the public and this is especially true for the leader of the country.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, has seen copies of correspondence sent to Varadkar in his first month in office.

Some people wanted to congratulate him on his new role, others wanted to criticise him, while some just wanted his autograph.

In one email, a person who described themselves as “half Indian and half Nepali” wrote:

“I salute you and the citizens of Ireland for having an open mind and heart and for being able to see and realize the need and importance of/for diversity and embrace and rejoice in it. You and your country have set an example for the rest of the world.”

In another email, a 50-year-old woman from India told Varadkar: “I honestly admire you being elected the youngest PM of Ireland. I pray that God induces you to do the right things.”

indian lady Department of the Taoiseach Department of the Taoiseach

Another person praised Varadkar, the country’s first openly-gay Taoiseach, for taking part in the Pride Parade in Dublin in June.

“Dear Mr Varadkar, I just wanted to write to you, to say how wonderful it was, to see you taking part in the recent Pride Parade, and to hear your speech in Smithfield Square. It was a truly historic and very moving moment, and I just wanted to let you know how much it meant to me and to many other people. Thank you so much.

“I grew up in the darker times in the 1980s and never dreamed I’d live to see days like these. When I saw you walking in the parade you gave me the courage and inspiration to walk the whole route of the parade this year too – the first time I found the courage to do so,” the person wrote.

pride Department of the Taoiseach Department of the Taoiseach

They added that, by being elected Taoiseach, Varadkar had “broken through that glass ceiling and shown that for us any job is possible now”.

“Your victory has empowered us all,” the person wrote.

In a separate email, someone from Bavaria in Germany wrote: “I’m asking you for a great favor. Would it be possible for you to kindly let me have a picture of yourself with a dedication and your signature? I would greatly appreciate it.”

autograph Department of the Taoiseach Department of the Taoiseach

Another person asked for Varadkar’s autograph “if it’s not too much trouble” as they “collect authentic autographs from leading politicians from all over the world”. They referred to him as “Leo Varadkal” in the message.

In another email, someone expressed their “warmest congratulations to the new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, on the occasion of his appointment”.

Like many in the Irish diaspora, I am greatly interested to see the first gay man of colour assume this role. It is something I feel quite proud of as someone from Donegal parents and who has also lived in the Republic.

The Eighth Amendment

In the batch of 40 files released to us, Varadkar received three emails calling for a referendum on the Eighth Amendment to be held, one asking his opinion on abortion and one asking him to protect the unborn.

One person said the Citizens’ Assembly has “clearly mandated” for a referendum on the issue.

“We have been waiting far too long … It’s well past time for an Irish Government to stand up and do right by women and pregnant people in Ireland.

“I was born two weeks after the 8th Amendment was inserted into our Constitution and yet, as a woman of childbearing age, something I had no say on has clearly the power to destroy my life in given circumstances. It’s time the people affected most by this amendment get to vote.”

8th new Department of the Taoiseach Department of the Taoiseach

In a separate letter, someone wrote: “Mr Varadkar, I note that during the Fine Gael leadership campaign, you expressed the view that the Citizens’ Assembly was “not a time-wasting exercise”, I would ask that you take action consistent with this comment and ensure that no more time is wasted in delivering a referendum.

People in Ireland have waited long enough for these basic human rights. The Government now has a clear mandate to calf a referendum and introduce broad legislation on this issue.

Another person told Varadkar they were aware of “how much you will have on your list” to accomplish but added: “I hope calling for a referendum, regardless of your personal feelings, is top of the list as the leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach of Ireland. WOMEN CAN’T WAIT.”

In a brief email, another person wrote: ”You now have power over life and death and I beg you to be merciful to the prisoners in the womb who have no voice of their own.”

‘Your mother’s home place’ 

In another email, a person told the Taoiseach: ”I wish you well with the challenges that lie ahead.”

They said they hoped Varadkar had “seen the recent article in the Irish Times where CSO data highlights the problem of unemployment and the impact on Co Waterford, your mother’s home place”.

“I trust that policies will be put in place to help deal with the situation,” the person added.

waterford Department of the Taoiseach Department of the Taoiseach

Separately, someone complained to Varadkar about the cost of rent. They wrote: ”Hi Taoiseach. The problems in Ireland are your responsibility, Ireland’s economy is spiraling out of control.

“The house next door to me is on the rental market for 1550 a month!! That’s 387.50 a week!…

“There is something very wrong with this country. In my opinion people should be able to live in comfort if they have a full-time job. Meaning house prices should be in line with minimum wages at a ratio of 1/3 allowing people to live and pay bills.

“I can promise you there is not a house or apartment in my area for 475 a month! This is ludicrous. I live in a council area.

There is a huge divide between the rich and the poor in this country and you are in charge! it’s time to stand up and do what’s right for the country and its people. All its people.

In the sample of correspondence we received, there were a number of emails relating to greyhound racing.

One called on Varadkar to impose a ban on exports and “save the greyhounds”. The writer stated that Irish greyhounds are bred for racing are “forced to travel thousands of miles” to “hellholes … with little or no animal welfare laws and where horrendous cruelty occurs”.

“It is heartbreaking to see these sensitive creatures tossed on the scrapheap and end their lives in misery … It is scandalous.. We must protect them and stop this barbaric act now,” the person wrote.

Read: Taoiseach says ministers will be allowed ‘dissent’ on Eighth Amendment

Read: The busiest day in the Dáil bar was the day Leo became Taoiseach

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