AN TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar was spotted assisting with conducting Covid-19 tests in Blanchardstown, north Dublin yesterday afternoon.
Recently, Mr Varadkar announced he would be returning to work as a medical doctor for one shift a week during the coronavirus crisis.
It was initially reported that Mr Varadkar would be rejoining the medical register in order to provide over-the-phone assessments to anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to Covid-19, but photographs circulating on social media today shows the Taoiseach assisting in person with testing at the Morgan Place halting site in Blancharstown.
The photographs show Mr Varadkar standing in for a photo in PPE gear alongside a young girl, named as Catherine Reilly by Traveller and Roma Human Rights organisation Pavee Point.
Catherine Reilly surprised by #Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar
yesterday when @PaveePoint Primary Health Care Project organised #COVID19 testing at Morgan Place site North Dublin yesterday. Travellers are more vulnerable to COVID19 due high levels of chronic illness and overcrowding. pic.twitter.com/qal63qjSw1
— Pavee Point (@PaveePoint) April 28, 2020
Further photos were shared by Fine Gael Councillor Eddie Hoare, who posted the images alongside the message: "On the front line - Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar at Morgans Place site in Blanchardstown where [he helps] with #Covid19 testing of residents.
"This sends out a really positive message."
Another snap appears to show Mr Varadkar assisting with further testing in Dublin's north inner city earlier in the day.
Also in North inner city today helping out 👍 pic.twitter.com/7ppCxe2bzv
— Kieran (@Kieran_MacHugh) April 27, 2020
The images drew both praise and criticism, with some arguing that Mr Varadkar had stated his return to the medical profession would not be used for photo ops, but others pointed out that the images were taken by locals on mobile phones and not by the press.
Dublin remains the worst-hit county in Ireland from coronavirus, with approximately 50% of all 19,648 cases.
Halting sites are a particular concern for possible clusters of coronavirus, with Pavee Point stating "Travellers are more vulnerable to COVID19 due to high levels of chronic illness and overcrowding".