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Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar speaking to the media at Dublin Castle. Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
zero for two

Varadkar says O'Gorman doesn't need to resign over referendum result

“I have full confidence in him, as have the Government,” the Taoiseach said.

LAST UPDATE | 9 Mar

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman does not need to resign over today’s results in the Family and Care referendums, despite calls from some opposition TDs.

The Government had campaigned for a Yes/Yes vote, but both referendums have been comprehensively rejected by the electorate.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News, Varadkar said: “I have full confidence in [O'Gorman], as have the Government.”

He acknowledged that today was a “significant” defeat but noted these are the 12th and 13th referendums an Irish Government has lost.

O’Gorman also expressed his disappointment at today’s result but said he has no intention of resigning. 

Speaking to reporters at Dublin Castle earlier, Varadkar said voters had given the Government “two wallops”.

“Clearly we got in wrong. Enda Kenny famously said once that the electorate often gives the Government a wallop – this is two wallops,” he said, referring to remarks by the then-Taoiseach when voters rejected the Seanad referendum in 2013.

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The Fine Gael leader said the Government accepts responsibility for today’s result.

“It was our responsibility to convince a majority of people to vote Yes, we’ve clearly failed to do so,” Varadkar said.

“I think we struggled to convince people of the necessity or need for the referendum at all – let alone detail on the wording – because that’s obviously something we’re going to have to reflect on into the weeks ahead.”

Controversial comments last week

Varadkar was also asked on the Six One News about controversial remarks he made in an interview with Virgin Media last week.

During an interview on the Six O’Clock Show, Varadkar spoke about the responsibility of family members to look after each other.

“I don’t actually think that’s the State’s responsibility, to be honest. I do think that is very much a family responsibility, but families deserve the support of the State, and that’s really what this article will say, this new part of the Constitution,” he said last week.

This evening he told RTÉ News that his comments had been taken out of context, saying: “I regret the way they were represented.”

He said that “half” of his comments were shared online, while the other half “was left out”.

“The State should support family care,” he added.

In relation to the Care amendment, Varadkar said that even if the Government had proposed a simple deletion of the reference to women’s role in the home, “I’m not sure we would have won the referendum either”.

He said the Government now wants to “press ahead” on issues such as gender equality, improved conditions for carers, and improved rights for people with disabilities.

With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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