Leo Varadkar accused of ‘waffling’ in RTE Prime Time interview on tech job losses

The Tánaiste appeared to be stumbling as he was engaged by McInerney who was praised by viewers for her robust approach

Leo Varadkar

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

Leo Varadkar was accused of “waffling” as he was grilled by RTE presenter Sarah McInerney on last night’s Prime Time about job losses in the tech sector.

The Tánaiste appeared to be stumbling as he was engaged by McInerney who was praised by viewers for her robust approach.

A special report from Barry Cummins focused on what had been a difficult week for the tech industry in Ireland, with Stripe and Twitter slashing jobs and Meta expected to follow suit later this week.

The Fine Gael leader then appeared on the show alongside McInerney as they discussed the issue in a pre-recorded interview.

RTÉ broadcaster Sarah McInerney

"My thoughts are very much with people working in the wider tech sector,” Mr Varadkar said.

“We're only a few weeks away from Christmas, I think there's no worse time of year for people to be worrying about their jobs.

"The Government will be there to help (people who lose their job)"

Mr Varadkar said that while there was no clear number in terms of job losses, he did point out that the tech sector had grown faster than most.

Asked by Sarah McInerney how worried he is, Mr Varadkar said: "[I'm] worried enough to have spent most of the last couple of days on phone calls, in meetings trying to get on top of the situation trying to get as much information as we could, but not unduly concerned.

"I don't want to downplay the seriousness of anyone losing their job, let alone hundreds of people but we have a very well-diversified economy in Ireland now.

"It's not like 10 or 20 years ago. The tech sector is important.

"It's six pc of our employment, 16pc of our economy, but we've other sectors that are important to and are expanding - pharmaceuticals, for example, medical devices, financial services, aviation. For example, Ryanair just announced their best results ever."

Mr Varadkar likened Ireland's corporation tax take to having Kerry footballer David Clifford on a team, saying that you "don't take it for granted".

He said, however, that the Government cannot know yet how much corporation tax would be lost because of job cuts.

He was then challenged by McInerney on the figures and other comments by Government colleague Paschal Donohoe as well as carbon tax and homelessness.

Mr Varadkar said that he "wasn't concerned about his legacy" when he finishes his second term as Taoiseach.

But viewers also weighed in on the debate with many applauding McInerney for her interview technique.

One wrote on social media: "Sarah McInerney is a top notch presenter" while a second added: "Leo will not be letting Sarah McInerney interview him when he turns Taoiseach."

Others accused the Fine Gael leader of dodging questions.

"@SarahAMcInerney doing a hell of a job exposing the weakness of Leo Varadkar’s tax broadening answers," one Twitter user said.

A second noted: "Varadkar is waffling. He completely failed to answer the issue of tax base broadening with another agreeing by saying: "He sounds like he is waffling an awful lot."

"Maybe I'm wrong, Leo looks concerned for the first time in ages" another added.

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