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leo varadkar

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With Brexit seemingly a permanent fixture on every TV channel and newspaper, gender and race disparity as prominent as ever and climate change on everyone's minds; the European Union elections have never been more important.

To coincide with the upcoming election, the EU has launched the 'This Time I'm Voting' campaign to encourage citizens to vote this time around.

Member states nominate direct candidates for the European Parliament through proportional representation. but with numerous EU parliamentarians represented on Twitter, it's hugely convenient to have debates online and exhange views.

The #ThisTimeImVoting campaign explains EU issues and elaborates on the ways in which every vote affects the living conditions of EU citizens.

This #EUelections2019 campaign is being introduced in 25 relevant languages to reach as many people as possible.

Factually-correct information is available on Twitter for first-time voters and EU election experts alike.

A large aspect of the public election conversation is happening via Twitter, which is why the site is showing support by introducing a special emoji for the #ThisTimeImVoting campaign.

The elections for local and EU seats as well as the divorce referendum take place on May 24, make sure you're there.

Every vote counts, so don't forget to make your mark on Europe. 

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The healthcare crisis is escalating as the nurses and midwives remain on strike for another day this week.

The impact on tens of thousands of patients is causing chaos, as members of the public are asked not to use out of hours GP services as hundreds of doctors gather for a protest in Dublin.

News has since emerged that a rally will take place this Saturday, allowing members of the public to support the nurses and Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Over 35,000 nurses and midwives voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action late last year, with their first 24-hour stoppage taking place on January 30 and second strike occurring yesterday.

The Facebook post reads; "Join the nurses' protest, called by the INMO, this Sat 12.30pm Parnell Square Dublin. Leo Varadkar and the Fine Gael led government are refusing to negotiate with the nurses."

It continues, "They are ignoring the huge public support for their legitimate claims. Most of us know that nurses deserve equality of treatment with other professional grades, better pay will help ease the recruitment crisis and that means better patient care in our hospitals."

"Nurses do not want to strike – they would prefer to care for their patients. We can help by turning our sympathy into a major display of solidarity." it concludes, calling on the public to text their numbers to join the rally at the Garden of Remembrance.

Further strike action is expected to take place on February 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, and 21, which is sure to affect a huge amount of patients.

Patients are being asked by the National Association of GP Co-ops to travel to emergency departments, or to wait to see their own GP if any ailment is experienced.

Other disruptions include the cancellation of outpatient appointments, non-urgent surgery, and respite, rehabilitation, and day centre services. An estimated 50,000 patients in the past week were affected.

Another strike is expected tomorrow, with up to 75,000 people likely to be affected. 

As of last night, there appears to be little hope of resolving the pay dispute, with the INMO accusing the Government of “recycling” ideas and calling on them to “come to the table unconditionally”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted that direct contact should have been made with nursing unions regarding further talks at the Workplace Relations Commission to resolve their dispute, instead of through a press release.

He responded to critique from  Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who claimed the statement was an "appalling and a pathetic way" to approach the dispute.

Yesterday, the Fine Gael Government issued a statement saying it was willing to engage in talks on issues other than pay to try to overcome the nurses' strike.

General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Phil Ni Sheaghdha said the Government had not communicated directly with the unions.

Adult mental health services are also coming under huge strain today and tomorrow due to a ban on overtime, including night rosters, as members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) engage in industrial action. 

Doctors will join the disagreement by heading to the Dáil to protest at conditions and pay cuts, which was organised by the National Association of General Practitioners.

Other aspects of the healthcare crisis involve a lack of beds, and the disastrous cost of the new National Paediatric Hospital, which sum now stands at €1.7 billion.

Feature image: Extra.ie

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Speaking at Dublin Castle today, ahead of the Pope's address Taoiseach Leo Varadkar took a moment to call on Pope Francis to ask him to use his power to make right the past wrongs of the Irish Catholic Church.

He told the congregation that there was still much to be done to achieve justice for victims of clerical abuse, and that there must be zero tolerance for the actions of the perpetrators and those who were involved in cover ups.

'It is a history of sorrow and shame. In place of Christian charity, forgiveness and compassion, far too often there was judgement, severity and cruelty, in particular, towards women and children and those on the margins,' he said, according to The Journal.

“Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, industrial schools, illegal adoptions and clerical child abuse are stains on our State, our society and also the Catholic Church.

“Wounds are still open and there is much to be done to bring about justice and truth and healing for victims and survivors.

“Holy Father, I ask that you use your office and influence to ensure this is done here in Ireland and across the World,” Varadkar said.

'There can only be zero tolerance for those who abuse innocent children or who facilitate that abuse.

'We must now ensure that from words flow actions.'

'Above all, Holy Father, I ask to you to listen to the victims.'

Varadkar also praised the Church for their positive influence on the country, and for the kindness and charity shown by Catholic organisations.

'As we struggle with a housing shortage and homelessness, Catholic organizations and people inspired by their Catholic faith fill a gap in providing services, for example, through organisations like CrossCare.'

'Holy Father, during your papacy, we have all witnessed your compassion for those on the edge of our society, those who have not shared in our relative prosperity, those you have slipped through the net.'

During the Pope's address, he acknowledged the dark crimes of the past, saying he shared the 'pain and shame of the Catholic community' but did not issue a public apology. 

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Today marks one year to the day that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar began updating his Twitter followers with weekly videos. 

The vlog-style short clips gave us an insight into what Varadkar gets up to on the day-to-day and became a key method for the Taoiseach to give information to his constituents

In honour of the anniversary, he decided to release a blooper reel from all of his videos over the last year. 

Many people are praising the video, hailing it as a reminder that our leaders and politicians are imperfect humans. 

However, other Twitter followers were upset by the video, questioning why the Taoiseach could take the time to release a 'trivial' blooper video when there are numerous issues going on at the moment that he could be tackling. 

A number of those mentioned are the cervical cancer scandal, homelessness, the housing crisis and Varadkar's recent alleged agreement with Donald Trump regarding the 'fake news' media. 

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On Saturday, the people of Ireland voted overwhelmingly in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment, thus allowing the government to legislate for the legal termination of pregnancy. 

Following the historic result, Minister for Health Simon Harris revealed that the new legal framework to replace the Eighth Amendment will be drafted as soon as possible.

During a Dáil  sitting this week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told members that he plans to have the legislation in place by January 1, 2018. 

'The view of government is that it wants to legislate for the termination of pregnancies as soon as possible,' Varadkar said.

'But we don’t want to rush it either.'

'There will be people who don’t accept this result, and people who will wish to challenge.'

'It’s important that we act with haste, but not with so much haste that we bring through bad legislation.'

Some Dáil  members are calling for the government to forego their summer recess to allow the legislation to be drafted and passed in a timely manner. 

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Leo Varadkar has been vocal in his support for repealing the 8th amendment in recant months. 

The Taoiseach uploaded a video to his Facebook page outlining ehy he will be voting Yes this Friday, and encouraging others to do the same. 

'When the 8th Amendment was put into our constitution back in  1983, that's 35 years ago, people believed that it would prevent abortion – but of course, it hasn't'

'It's just forced nearly 200,000 women to go overseas to end their pregnancies. We now have a lot of women, in fact two or three every day, who import abortion pills illegally over the internet, and end their pregnancies in their own home.'

'My views on abortion and on this difficult topic have changed over time.'

'Particularly during my time as Minister for Health, I became aware on occasion of some really tragic and really difficult cases.'

'Some people are worried that if they vote Yes, abortion will become too readily available in Ireland, that the new system will be too liberal – I want to assure you that that's not the plan.' 

Highlighting the logistics of a Yes majority vote, Varadkar noted that there will be a 72 hour waiting period for women seeking abortion.

'In the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, it will be the woman's decision as to whether she wants to go ahead with the pregnancy or not, and her doctor will be able to give her advice on alternative options or counselling.'

He went on to assure the public that after 12 weeks, there will only be access to abortion when the mother's life or health is at risk, or where the baby will not survive after birth, which must be confirmed by two separate specialist doctors.

'If you're still undecided, I'd ask you to put yourself in the shoes of a woman facing a crisis pregnancy. Perhaps she has been raped and doesn't feel that she can continue through with the pregnancy. Perhaps she's a child herself. If you vote No, nothing can change, and things will persist as they are now where women have to travel abroad to get the care that they need.'

Varadkar went on to highlight that he will be voting Yes opn May 25th for a more compassionate Ireland, 'one in which we don't sweep our problems under the carpet anymore.'

 

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Yesterday, the tragic news of the passing of EDM DJ and producer Avicii broke.

 Avicii, whose real name was Tim Bergling, sadly died in Oman, aged just 28 years old.

Fans were devastated by the news, many of which felt that Avicii's music defined particular eras of their lives – and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is no different.

Taking to Twitter, the Taoiseach expressed his sympathies to those effected by Avicii's death. 

He also divulged that Avicii's music had touched him at certain points in his life, specifically the summer of 2013. 

'So sorry to hear of the untimely passing of Avicii,' he wrote.

 

A post shared by Avicii (@avicii) on

'Wake Me Up was the song of the summer of 2013 and my song of the Camino.'

We have to agree that Wake Me Up is one hell of a tune – we'll have the This Is Avicii Spotify playlist on for the day in homage. 

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US President Donald Trump has described the Irish as “truly wonderful people” and revealed his intention to visit the island as early as next year.

The leader made the comments during a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as part of the Irish government's annual St. Patrick's Day trip.

Speaking to reporters in The Oval Office, he said: “It’s my honour to have the very popular Irish Taoiseach with us.”

When asked if he had any plans to visit Ireland, the president replied: “I will, I love it, I have property there.”

It's understood the two leaders discussed trade, military and cyber issues in a meeting that lasted around 40 minutes.

In the past, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would raise LGBT rights if the opportunity presented itself in the White House, however, ahead of the meeting today, he said it would not be possible to fit everything in.

Yesterday, senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin released a statement condemning the Taoiseach's decision to extend an invite to President Trump.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he will be campaigning for more liberal abortion laws, according to RTE.

The Taoiseach will be pushing for choice in the forthcoming referendum on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

The Taoiseach is expected ton declare his official stance in a Cabinet meeting this month. 

Speaking in an interview with the BBC, Mr Varadkar said:

'We will have that referendum, hopefully in the summer and we should be in a position to make a decision on that in Government next week.'

He was also asked if he would campaign for the law to be changed, to which he replied:

'I'll be campaigning for them to be changed and to be liberalised, yes.' 

Mr Varadkar was also asked if his previously declared 'pro-life' stance had changed. 

To this, the Taoiseach said that his views on the matter had evolved and changed. 

'I still believe in life but I understand that there are circumstances under which pregnancies can't continue,' he said. 

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A poll which was conducted at the beginning of the week has established that Leo Varadkar is the most popular Taoiseach since Bertie Aherne.

Varadkar, who took the post in June of last year, is said to have gone up seven points in The Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI poll, securing him a 60 per cent approval rating.

The news may come as a surprise to anyone who was left stunned by Varadkar's recent remarks during a discussion on the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme when he appeared to suggest that those attempting to get on the property ladder should seek financial assistance from their parents or move abroad in order to save.

"It has always been the case that a person needs to raise a deposit to buy a house,” he said. “People do it in many different ways. Sometimes people go abroad for a period and earn money. Others get money from their parents. Lots of us did." 

The poll, which harnessed the opinions of 1,200 voters, also established that satisfaction with the Government has risen by three points, securing a 44 per cent approval rating.

According to a NewsTalk report, 2007 was the last time an Irish leader held as popular a position with the general public.

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Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has come under fire from the public for remarks he made regarding financial planning.

While discussing public interest in the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme, the Taoiseach suggested that those attempting to get on the property ladder should seek financial assistance from their parents or move abroad in order to save.

Contributing to discussion surrounding the scheme, which intends to provide low-interest loans to first-time buyers, Mr Varadkar provided an insight into his own financial history.

“It has always been the case that a person needs to raise a deposit to buy a house,” he said. “People do it in many different ways. Sometimes people go abroad for a period and earn money. Others get money from their parents. Lots of us did."

“It has always been the case that a person had to be able to raise a deposit to buy his or her own home, with the exception of one period during the boom when we had 100% loans, which I would not like us to get back to because we know where that led us,” he reasoned.

Twitter users have taken umbrage with the remarks, with many arguing that this perspective demonstrates a limited understanding of the financial hardship endured by many families in Ireland.

Last year, Bank of Ireland were forced to pull a campaign which suggested that adult children should rely on their parents for financial support.

The public were quick to criticise the organisation's attempt to normalise a situation which has been causing grave concern among young adults in recent years.

Taking to Twitter to air their grievances, the public condemned the campaign, with one person writing: "Despite it being the reality, it's low for a state backed bank to promote young people misfortunes."

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A rape survivor has highlighted the lack of treatment and support units available for victims of sexual assault in a letter addressed to Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.

Dominique Meehan wrote to the Fine Gael leader after she was forced to travel from Dublin to Mullingar because the capital's Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) was not available at the time.

The 25-year-old was attending a comic book convention at the Blanchardstown Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin hotel when she was raped by Keith Hearne.

According to The Irish Independent, last summer, the Central Criminal Court heard that Hearne had purchased a “rape kit” consisting of a prop knife, handcuffs, a mask and condoms prior to the attack.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, one count of oral rape and one count of false imprisonment and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

In a effort to improve services for other victims of sexual assault, Dominique wrote a powerful letter calling on the Taoiseach to establish more SATUs around the country.

“Since Hearne’s conviction I have found out a lot about our criminal justice system, Sexual Assault Treatment Units, and about the availability of services for rape survivors like the Rape Crisis Network Ireland,” she writes.

"It has become acceptable in Ireland that a survivor has to travel a maximum of two-and-a-half hours to reach a SATU. Imagine that you have been attacked in Westport and need to travel all the way to Sligo hospital to reach their SATU, sometimes not even in an ambulance," she wrote.

"You must sit in the dirty clothes that you have been attacked in, unable to drink, sore in areas you have no right to be sore in. I myself, having been attacked in Dublin, was sent to Mullingar as there were no SATUs available in Dublin, and wasn't allowed to drink for six hours even though I had been orally raped.

"No SATUs in Dublin? A county with more than a million people to serve. One in four women and one in 33 men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime and there is only one SATU in the Rotunda. It's utterly astounding that this has gone on for so long."

Dominique says she hopes to eventually go on to work with rape survivors.

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