#parents | #teensvaping | Pat Kenny says people can ‘make up their own minds’ when asked if he ever took illegal drugs

Pat Kenny kicked to touch whether he has ever taken illegal drugs but said: “I lived in the US during the 60s and 70s at the time of Woodstock so make up your own mind from that.”

The Virgin Media presenter, 71, who sparked controversy on Wednesday when he asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin if they had ever taken illegal drugs, went on to defend his decision to pose the question.

The issue came up during the leaders’ debate on Virgin Media One as moderator Kenny asked for ‘an honest answer’ when he quized whether they had ever taken illegal drugs.

And while Martin quickly answered that he never done so, time seemed to stand still as Varadkar shyly said he’d already answered that question “in a Hot Press interview 10 or 12 years ago” before going on to admit “Yes, but it was obviously a long time ago.”

Following some mixed reaction to the exchange, Kenny defended his reasoning for asking the question on Thursday and claimed that the answers benefited both parties and voters for different reasons.

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar, Virgin Media debate host Pat Kenny and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin at the Virgin Media Television Studios for the General Election 2020 debate

The Dubliner told Irish Daily Mirror: “You can never anticipate how people are going to react to a certain question, and in the case of Michael Martin, he said he never took any drugs, it depends how that plays with the different audiences.

“To a conservative, older audience, someone saying they never smoked dope is probably vote worthy.

“But to an urban audience, anyone who went to college in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s the availability of weed was probably widespread, so Leo making the remark he did probably suggested an honesty on his part.

“Now admittedly, he had already committed himself in the Hot Press interview 12 years ago so he couldn’t make a liar of himself, but at the same time, talking around my office here in Newstalk where there are a lot of young people they just found his honesty a bit refreshing and relatable.

“In the context of the criticism from the political parties about how middle class consumers of so-called recreational drugs are fuelling the drugs trade I think absolutely it was a fair question.”

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar, Virgin Media debate host Pat Kenny and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin at the Virgin Media Television Studios for the General Election 2020 debate

Meanwhile, when posed with the same question by Irish Daily Mirror on Thursday, Kenny said: “If you are asking whether I would or have, [ever taken drugs], I would never comment on that simply because I’m an arbiter in these things so I don’t want ever to be the story.

“But let’s put it this way. I lived in the United States in the late 1960s, early 70s at the time of Woodstock so you can make up your own mind from that.”

In the interview with Hot Press in 2010, Mr Varadkar was asked if he had ever smoked cannabis, to which he replied: “I did a bit in my college years, yeah. But I wouldn’t be advocating that anybody else do the same – particularly being more aware now of the evidence linking cannabis smoking to schizophrenia”.

When asked in the same interview if he had ever experimented with ecstasy or other illegal drugs as a teen, he said: “Not since I’ve held elected office, anyway. I’ve been extremely law-abiding since I’ve been elected to politics.”

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When pushed on the drugs question again at a campaign event in Castleknock Community College in his Dublin West constituency on Thursday, the Fine Gael leader said he wasn’t prepared to go into more detail due to his role as Taoiseach.

He said: “I’m not going to go into any more detail. You know I’m conscious that I’m the Taoiseach… to a certain extent, I’m a little bit of a role model.”

“And you know I don’t want to be doing anything or saying anything that in any way promotes drug use or suggests to young people or the students in here that it’s in any way okay so I won’t be saying any more.”




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