LEO VARADKAR has defended his decision to travel to the UK for a music festival earlier this week, insisting that "the rules should be no different for me".
The Tánaiste is facing a fierce backlash after a photo emerged of him at the Mighty Hoopla festival in London's Brockwell Park over the weekend, mere days after he criticised Britain's rules regarding music events.
Irish music-lovers were also riled up by the fact that the cancelled Electric Picnic was supposed to have been held last weekend.
Breaking his silence on the matter, Varadkar told RTÉ: "The advice that we give people travelling abroad is that you obey the rules and regulations and the restrictions of the country that you're in, and that's what I did.
"I often feel that any rules or regulations that apply to the public should apply to me too.
Leo Varadkar having a buzz at a festival in London while we’re not allowed to dance really does twist the knife in deeper. pic.twitter.com/MM9ou3s3wM
— Sam Greenwood (@Sam_Greenwood_) September 4, 2021
"And if that means that you can travel abroad and if it means that you can attend a match or a concert, well, the rules should be no different for me."
Varadkar's colleagues have also backed his decision, with Taoiseach Micheál Martin insisting that his deputy is "entitled" to his private time and is allowed to do whatever he wants with it so long as he doesn't break the law.
Minister Simon Harris also defended Varadkar, but many thought the move was "tone deaf" for a senior Irish politician to urge the public to follow all necessary Covid-19 restrictions, before jetting off to a country where those rules don't exist.
Music and entertainment industry bosses were particularly furious, particularly following reports that Varadkar had told them during a recent meeting that the UK's rules regarding festivals were "definitely not an example to follow".
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Varadkar said that the Tánaiste was in the UK "on private time", where "such events are allowed," and insisted he had done nothing wrong by attending the festival.
"He supported Electric Picnic going ahead and helped secure the re-opening plan for concerts and other big events beginning on Monday with capacity limits and vaccination certificates, moving to full capacity next month," the spokesperson added.