THE Kylie KERFUFFLE
First it was Free-Meal-Gate – now the Taoiseach won’t say if he and his friends got free VIP passes for the Princess of Pop
LEO VARADKAR last night refused to say if he had received free VIP passes for a Kylie Minogue concert – following his online statement earlier this week that he had not received a complimentary meal at the same event.
While Mr Varadkar argued, through a spokesman, that he paid for his own tickets, he evaded questions about the complimentary VIP passes he can be seen wearing in pictures from the evening.
He again refused to confirm if he had been given free tickets/ passes to a controversial LCD Sound System gig or to a recent Nick Cave gig. In fact he refused to say if he has been gifted any complimentary tickets or passes since he was elected Taoiseach in June 2017.
However, the Irish Mail on Sunday can reveal that he gave six 3Arena VIP bar passes to his group. Earlier this week he posted a statement online denying that he had received a free meal at the Kylie gig – and saying he had the receipt to prove it. This was in response to a now withdrawn Facebook post, alleging he and his party had enjoyed a free meal and drinks. He also denied the allegation that he had not tipped a waitress.
Yesterday his spokesman said the Taoiseach didn’t have a receipt for the drinks – but had a credit card record to prove the purchase. This record was not provided.
In pictures posted to social media, Mr Varadkar and his five friends can be seen with passes for the 3Arena’s exclusive 1878 Club. The Taoiseach, who has a penchant for meeting his musical heroes backstage, was photographed with Kylie, a gay icon, at the Monday gig. His friend Tiernan Brady, who hopes to run for Fianna Fáil in the European elections, posted a photograph.
Mr Varadkar and his partner Matt Barrett, Mr Brady and his former partner, and two other men are seen with Ms Minogue accompanied by the caption ‘six gay teenagers meet the girl from Neighbours’. Ms Minogue initially found fame in the Australian soap opera Neighbours.
Mr Brady managed the recent successful marriage equality referendum campaign in Australia. He and Mr Varadkar have been friends for a number of years.
Mr Varadkar is understood to have given his friends the 1878 club tickets. An 1878 Club membership costs €11,500, and provides 24 complimentary seats across all shows throughout the year, priority purchase for four seats at every show,
free parking, Circle Club membership of the Bord Gais Energy Theatre and pre- and post-access to the exclusive club. Sources said that when Mr Varadkar’s group were in the club, they were asked if they wanted to meet Ms Minogue.
A source who met Ms Minogue backstage on Monday described her as ‘lovely’. ‘I have to say she was a very nice person. We were chatting for a little while, which was nice.’ Ms Minogue is understood to have discussed the passing of marriage equality in Australia with the group.
Mr Varadkar said he felt compelled to address the ‘free dinner’ accusation online because it took aim at not only him, but also at his friends. The Facebook post claimed that the group had a free meal in the VIP club – and didn’t tip.
Mr Varadkar subsequently tweeted: ‘There was no meal, we only had drinks and I paid. I have the receipt to prove it too.’ Asked on the Late Late Show why he felt obliged to set the record straight, the Taoiseach said the allegation involved his friends and he couldn’t accept it.
‘It wasn’t only about me it was about my friends. That’s why I felt it should be corrected and the minute it was, I was happy about it. It was a thing that bothered me for three minutes.’ Mr Varadkar said Ms Minogue had called him to apologise for an earlier cancelled concert, after he invited her to visit him at Government buildings.
However, the Taoiseach remained tight-lipped about whether he enjoys complimentary tickets/ passes to gigs – including the Kylie Minogue show.
This week the MoS asked him 14 questions. In response, a spokesman said: ‘The Taoiseach attends concerts in a private capacity. For the sake of clarity, he purchased the Kylie Minogue tickets.’
The spokesperson added that the Taoiseach is ‘not a member of the clubs referenced’.
Following the Taoiseach’s tweet denying the ‘free meal’ allegations, the author of the original Facebook post wrote: ‘I was sent a story about Leo Varadkar TD and shared it in good faith. It now appears that it was inaccurate and I really should have checked before sharing.’
star: Kylie singing on her current tour
we should be so lucky: Leo Varadkar with partner Matt Barrett and friends… with Kylie