Awkward scenes in Leaders' Debate as Leo Varadkar is asked if he has ever taken drugs

Awkward scenes in Leaders' Debate as Leo Varadkar is asked if he has ever taken drugs

THERE WERE awkward scenes during the head-to-head debate between Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar last night as mediator Pat Kenny asked the party leaders if they had ever taken drugs.

The leaders of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were taking part in Virgin Media One's televised leaders' debate when Mr Kenny put the question to them.

Mr Kenny asked: "Have you ever taken illegal drugs in any shape or form?"

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin replied immediately that he never has, but Mr Varadkar took a bit more time to answer.

Referencing an interview he did with Irish music magazine Hot Press in 2010, Mr Varadkar said:

"I answered that question in a Hot Press interview about 12, 13 years ago and I answered it truthfully."

With Mr Martin grinning, Mr Kenny pressed the question, saying: "Which is?"

An awkard, seconds-long pause followed, with Mr Kenny again prompting "Which is?" and "The answer is that you did,"  before the Taoiseach said: "Yes, but it was obviously a very long time ago."

In the interview to which Mr Varadkar is referring to, he admitted having smoked cannabis as a student, and when asked if he had ever experienced with any drugs said:

"Not since I've held elected office, anyway. I've been extremely law-abiding since I've been elected to politics".

During the same interview, the then-29-year-old advocated for the regulation of head shops rather than an outright ban, saying "they'll always be one step ahead of the law".

Reactions to the moment on the debate had many voicing their opposition to the fact that the question had even been asked in the first place, saying the question was "immature", with one person pointing out that former president of the USA, Barack Obama, had admitted smoking cannabis in college.