Openly gay Irish politician and the country’s current Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar and his husband have been granted an unprecedented level of security protection after receiving death threats described by members of his political party as “unnerving”.
The politician who came out during Ireland’s referendum on marriage equality in 2015 during a radio interview, has had his personal address- where he lives with husband Matthew Barrett, graffitied on a wall in Belfast in Northern Ireland and received a number of other threats believed to be homophobic in nature and from far-right and anti-lockdown groups.
Despite some outlets having wrongly claimed that Varadkar and his husband were forced to move to a more secure location due to the threats made, this is not believed to be the case.
However, the level of protection being provided is believed to be higher than those currently afforded to Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and entails a 24/7-armed garda detail, in addition to his garda driver.
Security Ramped Up
“For obvious reasons, not much can be divulged as this is a security issue of national importance.” A source told Irish Central, “But it’s fair to say gardai do not ramp up any member of government’s armed security unless there is a good reason. This is being taken extremely seriously.”
The gardai or garda refers to the Irish national police force who are responsible for the protection of the country’s leadership, with a source saying, “Some of the threats against the Tánaiste are coming from people who are already on the garda radar because of their involvement with extremism, linked to some of the recent anti-lockdown protests.”
I tweeted this morning about the death threats against Tanaiste @LeoVaradkar. I'm disgusted by the reaction from supposedly intelligent decent people. I'm sickened by some comments. Whatever his politics @LeoVaradkar is entitled to live in safety. I'm 100% behind him.
— Senator G Craughwell (@GCraughwell) April 4, 2021
Homophobic, Racist Death Threats
Neale Richmond, another member Fine Gael- currently serving in Irelands lower house for the Dublin Rathdown constituency, has said described the threats against Varadkar as “unnerving”.
“If you want to go for a run within your 5km and have to ask Special Branch to come with you, it has a huge impact on your life.
“And Leo, in fairness, has had a slew of threats over the years. He’s had homophobic death threats; he’s had racist death threats; he’s had politically charged death threats; he’s had loyalists putting up his home address on walls. And he’s also getting a lot from the anti-lockdown far right.”
Richmond went on to add “It’s not nice for him or his partner Matt, but he’s getting on with it and has great faith in the guards.”
In June 2017, Varadkar had become Ireland’s first (and world’s fourth) openly gay head of government when he was elected Taoiseach or Prime Minister of the country.