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

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By John Lee

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

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