A former Tánaiste (Irish Deputy Prime Minister) has drawn parallels between new Irish leader Leo Varadkar and US President Donald Trump, claiming too much emphasis is being placed on trivial matters instead of the big issues Ireland needs to address.

After the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mary Coughlan, former deputy leader of Fianna Fáil (largest opposition party in the current parliament) had some harsh words for the Taoiseach (prime minister) regarding the increased emphasis being placed on social media at the expense of rural communities. Coughlan went so far as to compare the increased emphasis on social media in Irish politics to President Trump’s Twitter addiction.  

"On a personal level he [Varadkar] is a gentleman ... but there are very important things happening at the moment, and socks and the like, well they're not important at all,” Coughlan told RTÉ’s Raidió na Gaeltachta.

"It's easy to be on Twitter and not to do interviews, like President Trump in the US at the moment, but it's not right at all.

“There is very important work to be done, with Europe and policies. People are under huge pressure, and it’s too easy to be on Twitter.”

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach questioned Coughlan’s comments stating that an in-depth interview with Varadkar had just been released and that new strategies were being launched.

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Former Tánaiste Mary Coughlan. Image: RollingNews.ie.

Former Tánaiste Mary Coughlan. Image: RollingNews.ie.

Varadkar has done three interviews since he was elected in early June, according to The Times, including one with Time Magazine which saw him gracing the cover in the European edition.

"It's a curious comment to make on the day that the Taoiseach launched a major new strategy on the very big question of drug and alcohol misuse, and the day after the 'Sunday Independent' published an in-depth interview with him,” the spokesperson said.

The former Donegal TD, who was nicknamed “Calamity Coughlan” throughout her time as Tánaiste to then-Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen between 2008 and 2011, had previously clashed with Varadkar in 2008 when the shoe was on the other foot and she was the one being compared to controversial US politician, Sarah Palin.

"Actually she [Sarah Palin] reminds me of Mary Coughlan, which is why I'm terrified Brian Cowen may become incapable for some reason," the then-newly elected Fine Gael backbencher Varadkar said on an Irish TV show.

The program's host replied saying that the then-Tanaiste was "well able to speak for herself," to which Varadkar replied “just about.”

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Mary Coughlan and former Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Image: RollingNews.ie

Mary Coughlan and former Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Image: RollingNews.ie

Having kept a low-profile since losing her Dáil (parliament) seat in 2011, Coughlan is set to appear at the MacGill Summer School this week as a moderator for a panel on living in the border counties post-Brexit.

Speaking with RTÉ’s Aodh Máirtín Ó Fearraigh before her appearance, Coughlan also had harsh words for the Independent TDs in the current government who she believes are having little or no effect. She claimed that the government is completely neglecting rural communities.

“They have forgotten those outside of Dublin and that’s what’s upsetting people so much,” Coughlan commented.

“It’s great that Dublin’s prospering and doing well with employment, but that’s not to be seen outside of the Pale.

“Did they make any difference to the country, although they were elected to the Dáil?” she asked of Independent TDs.

“What did they do? What power have they to support the communities that elected them? In my opinion, they have done nothing.”

Coughlan also confirmed she will not be running in the next general election.

What do you make of the increased social media use among world leaders? Is it distracting or all part of a new way to govern? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

H/T: Donegal News