Longford Leader columnist Mattie Fox: Being responsible, sometimes means staying silent

Mattie Fox

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Mattie Fox

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newsroom@longfordleader.ie

Being responsible, sometimes means staying silent

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

It’s a great shame that Leo Varadkar takes decisions such as the one he consciously adopted last week when an envelope containing suspicious contents was delivered to the Department of Health.

The building had to be completely cleared, and staff sent home for the day. Part of the reason was probably the Salisbury incident in the UK where people were poisoned. In any case the bomb squad was called in as the feeling was, that this was a serious incident and must be approached with great caution.

Great care was exercised in approaching the envelope, and nobody knew it was a dud, until it had been investigated. But unfortunately, the Taoiseach is so totally preoccupied with image and latches on to any and all public opportunities without the remotest trace of embarrassment, it seems.

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The distance and inconvenience is no problem, not when there’s camera potential that will show our Taoiseach in a good light.
He’d detour for two hours to land a snap. I think most people would expect he was fully preoccupied with Brexit and doing rather well, staying on message resolutely, and possessing a certain appropriate gravitas.

His image was being heightened by the day, showing up British politicians as amateurs in their statements and proclamations, and toddler-scale proposals. In that context, he’s being seen as a serious politician. Brexit is the sort of image that should appeal to him. Yet he craves the diet of adulation before he taking anything serious enough to ponder carefully.

By lowering the public image of Taoiseach — as many thought he did around the Dáil — all he serves is to remind us is, that Britain is not alone. The Irish are just as preoccupied with PR as their British counterparts could ever be. After the incident in the Department of Health, he couldn’t resist making a statement. “If you want to come after us, come after us. But don’t come after our staff or our families.” Oh dear.

Standing gravely while he made the statement, he seemed to revel in the opportunity to let everyone know what he thought.
He shouldn’t have bothered with such an attempt to engage the attention of those who placed the device in the first place.
Being responsible sometimes means staying silent.

It might be, by far, the best response.