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leo varadkar

Speaking in Limerick, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has given further insight into his thoughts on the 8th Amendment.

When asked his opinion on Micheál Martin's announcement earlier this week that he supports a repeal of the 8th, Varadkar reiterated that he believes it is a ‘personal and private issue.’

He continued to say: ‘I've said before that I believe our laws are too restrictive and need to be reformed and need to be liberalised, and of course, that requires a change to the constitution.’

‘But, part of leadership is to listen and I want to listen to public opinion, the citizens assembly, my own party members, and also listen to the debate in the Dáil and Seanad,’ he said.

He also emphasized that the wording of the referendum is vital.

‘I want to actually know what that question is before asking people to say yes or no," he said.

Varadkar is expected to reveal his own views on the 8th at the end of this month.

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Repealing the Eight Amendment may not be enough to guarantee abortion without restriction, the government has heard.

Leo Varadkar has said the government is considering adding another line into the Constitution after the Attorney-General Seamus Wolfe warned that it may contain other articles that protect the lif of the unborn.

The Taoiseach has revealed they are awaiting advice before moving forward on the issue.

“That's something we're awaiting advice from the Attorney-General about,” he explained.

“Because we would find ourselves in a very strange situation if we repeal the 8th amendment only to find out there are other rights to life that exist in other parts of the Constitution – that might then make any legislation we pass unconstitutional.”

The Dáil is due to hear statements from TDs on Wednesday and Thursday in relation to the recommendations put forward in the Oireachtas Committee report.

The Taoiseach is said to be awaiting the final wording of the bill before revealing his stance in the issue.

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Brexit negotiations have resulted in the assurance that there will be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Theresa May announced that that ‘we guarantee there will be no hard border in Ireland.’

She also pledged to ‘uphold the Belfast Agreement,’

‘Things are moving in the right direction’ Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Journal.

‘It’s in our interest that the Brexit that does happen is as soft as it can be.’

‘I think we’re getting away from this binary hard or soft idea.’

‘This is not the end but it is the end of the beginning,’ he tweeted.

'We want to build bridges, not borders. We want to free travel and free trade to continue as it does now and has done for 20 years.'

A second phase of negotiations will now begin.

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Pamela Anderson has issued a formal letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, detailing her wish for the Irish leader to place a ban on fur farming.

As a longtime vegetarian, the former Baywatch star is an avid supporter of animal rights organisation PETA and has spent years campaigning to end various types of animal abuse.

Having previously contacted Enda Kenny over the use of wild animals for entertainment purposes, Pamela opened the letter to the current Fianna Gael leader by saying how “thrilled” she was to hear that a ban would be put in place next year.

She then went on to explain the damaging effects that fur farms are having on over 200,000 minks that a imprisoned in the country three remaining farms.

“They're denied the opportunity to act on any of their natural instincts – such as roaming, swimming and caring for their young,” she wrote.

The star also reminded Leo of the many countries that have already outlawed the practice, including our closest neighbours, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

“I can't think of anyone more capable of creating history once again than you, Ireland's youngest and first openly gay prime minister,”she continued.

“Please, would you pull up those stylish socks of yours and announce a ban on fur farming in Ireland? I greatly look forward to clinking glasses with you when that happens.”

Pamela, who is known to reach out to celebrities and political figures, has previously urged the celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Naomi Campbell to stop wearing fur.

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Yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar claimed that Ireland's homelessness crisis was 'low' by international standards. 

The Taoiseach spoke on the second day of the Fine Gael national conference in Cavan, and insisted that the Government would be turning the tide on homelessness none the less. 

Facing backlash over his remark, on Twitter, Varadkar responded to critics: 'Context matters.'

'Was asked a question yesterday about Ireland having one of the highest homelessness levels. We don’t by international comparison. That's a fact.,' he said.

He then drew further criticism from citizens with the following statement:

'It is nonetheless a stain on our society and we’ll do all we can to eliminate it.'

Twitter users were taken aback by the turn of phrase used by the Taoiseach. 'Yes context matters Taoiseach and referring to homelessness as a "stain on society" is an unpalatable statement,' said one user.

Niamh Randall, spokesperson for The Simon Communities of Ireland, challenged the Taoiseach's statement via Twitter: 

'This narrative must be challenged. It’s is not true.Other countries use a broader definition of homelessness when gathering their statistics our monthly statistics only record a limited number – those who are in Section 10 funded emergency accommodation.'

'These monthly numbers do not include rough sleepers & those staying is squats, hidden homelessness people living in unsuitable, overcrowded, unsustainable accommodation, those in accommodation not funded through section 10 – many thousands of people struggling.'

 

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Leo Varadkar has announced that in his first year as Taoiseach, Ireland will balance its books in the 2018 budget.

There are a number of expected developments for next year's budget, which will be announced this afternoon.

Significant increases in spending on schools, transport and housing are due to be revealed.

There will also be more spent on the public sector, which will mean the possibility of an increase in nurses, Gardaí and teachers.

It has not yet been confirmed, but it is expected that those on social welfare will see an increase in their payments by €5 per week.

It is not known when exactly this increase will come into effect.

It is also expected that a sugar tax will be introduced to curb our consumption of fizzy drinks.

The price of cigarettes is also set to increase.

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A referendum on the Eight Amendment will take place in May or June of 2018, says Leo Varadkar.

The Taoiseach has today told the Dáil that the government has agreed an “indicative timeline” for the highly-anticipated referendum.

The announcement comes amid fears that the special Oireachtas committee tasked with considering proposals to repeal the Eight Amendment will not have completed its work by the Christmas deadline.

In the case that the deadline is not met, the delay in legislation will see the date for the referendum pushed back.

As many as eight referendums will be held before the summer of 2019 including votes on women in the home, blasphemy, and liberalising divorce laws.

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The Cabinet will meet today to discuss the possibility of holding up to eight referendums over the next 18 months. 

RTÉ reports that a number of potential referendums will be considered today, with the aim for them to be called by the summer of 2019. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will present the potential referendums to the cabinet.

These include a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, which has been heavily called for by the public over the last 12 months

This referendum may be held as soon as next May or June, according to RTÉ.

These referendums could also include polls on whether to reduce the voting age to 16.

With so many referendums on the horizon, now would be the time to register to vote, if you haven't already. 

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After four years spent in an Egyptian prison, Dublin native, Ibrahim Halawa, has been acquitted of all charges and is expected to be released in the following days.

The 21-year-old was among hundreds of protestors who were arrested during a Muslim Brotherhood demonstration in Cairo in August 2013. He has just 17-years-old at the time.

The verdict comes after Ibrahim’s trail was adjourned 25 times due to the complications of a mass trail.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he “wholeheartedly welcomes this conclusion,” and will facilitate his return to Ireland at the “earliest opportunity”.

“I want to acknowledge the consular and diplomatic work undertaken on Ibrahim’s behalf by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Irish Embassy in Cairo throughout this lengthy process. Following today’s verdict, they will continue to assist Ibrahim and his family to ensure he gets home as soon as possible.”

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has acknowledged that he sees the inequalities Irish women face. 

The Taoiseach welcomed the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone's call for women's reproductive rights.

Ms Zappone said that Irish women would not be equal citizens until the 8th amendment was removed from the constitution.

Mr Varadkar welcomed her statements. 

'The decision is we intend to have a referendum ideally in the first part of next year, and that will give the Irish people an opportunity to decide what they want to do with the Irish Constitution – because ultimately it’s only going to be a decision for the Irish people,' he said, according to The irish Times.

Mr Varadkar said that while the 8th amendment is an area which needs to be addressed, he said that women face inequality in 'lots of different fields. '

'I don’t believe Irish women are fully equal, but I think that’s about many things, not just the Constitution.'

'We see it in lots of different fields. It is an issue that I know divides households.'

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Leo Varadkar has said he intends to ask the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to allow Ibrahim Halawa to return to Ireland after his trial on Monday.

The Taoiseach is due to speak with the Egyptian leader on the phone tomorrow, and has said that it is his, “hope and expectation that once the trail is over he will be sent home to Ireland.”

At just 21-years-old, the Dublin native has been in prison in Egypt since 2013 after he was arrested during a political demonstration in Cairo.

Speaking to RTÉ News, Varadkar admitted he is wary about raising expectations but insisted “the government cares a lot about this case.”

Ibrahim's sister, Nosayba, says her brother has high hopes for the coming days.

"My brother was visiting him today and I spoke with my brother and he said Ibrahim's hopes were very very high," she said.

"I hope what we hear on Monday meets our expectation."

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Women in Ireland continue to fight for their reproductive rights, but the Irish government has been slow to act on their call to action.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is in Canada this weekend to visit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and pro-choice women are calling on the leader to discuss the issue of Ireland's abortion ban while he's there. 

The hashtag #JustinformLeo is going viral this afternoon, as women take to Twitter to beseech the PM to tell the Taoiseach how they feel:

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