LEO VARADKAR has defended his decision to quote the Lindsay Lohan high school comedy Mean Girls during a speech outlining plans to ease Ireland’s Covid-19 restrictions.
The Taoiseach sent social media into meltdown during an update on plans to accelerate the government’s roadmap for lifting lockdown when he quoted the line “the limit does not exist”.
However, the use of the quote drew criticism from opposition politicians, who branded it “inappropriate” in the context of a pandemic that has seen over 1,700 people to date lose their lives in Ireland.
Responding to the disapproval during an interview on RTÉ’s Prime Time, Mr. Varadkar branded the criticism levelled at him as “snobbish”.
“I think any quote is appropriate if it’s appropriate in its context, whether it was written in a movie or by a poet,” he said.
“It was the context of our emissions as a country and I know that some people may be snobbish about those things, that a quote from a movie is different to a quote from a poet or a great author… but I don’t see it that way.
“I think any quote, in any speech, is appropriate if it’s in context and I have used quotes from poets and other writers precisely to deal with the issue [of Covid].”
LEO VARADKAR JUST QUOTED MEAN GIRLS AND I AM DECEASED 💀💀 pic.twitter.com/74fShbFDnD
— Caolán Mc Aree (@Caolanmcaree) June 19, 2020
The Taoiseach has made a habit of quoting famous Irish figures as well as several Hollywood films during speeches made during the pandemic.
Singer Dermot Kennedy and Seamous Heaney have both been quoted along with The Terminator, Lord of the Rings and, now, Mean Girls.
“There are nearly 2,000 people who have died on this island as a consequence of Covid and they have families who are grieving.
“There are 100,000 people out of work and I have used quotes that I identified with, that explains some of the feelings they are having and the darkness around that.”
Asked whether he felt the quotes distracted from the seriousness of Covid-19, Mr. Varadkar said: “I think it is a distraction for some people but not for me”.
He also defended the continued acceleration of the lifting of lockdown restrictions across Ireland.
“Think of where we’ve come [from]. Today, three deaths, sadly, but only a small number of new cases. The positivity rate in Ireland is 0.5%, it was 20%. So if we do 200 tests a day, only one is testing positive,” he said.
“And also, we see the R0 number stay below 1. That’s despite the fact that we’ve done Phase 1 easing and we’ve done Phase 2 easing… and even still the positivity rate is falling and the R0 number is still below 1, so that gives me the confidence to say we can move to Phase 3.
“Will there be local outbreaks? Will there be spikes? Yes, probably. Because that’s what we’ve seen in other countries.
“But what’s different now to three or four months ago is we have a robust testing and tracing system in place that will identify that quickly so we can stamp down on it quickly and any new measures that we have to reintroduce can be localised or specific to a sector.”