Leo Varadkar defended over 'picnic in park' pictures

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Leo VaradkarImage source, PA Media

Leo Varadkar was fully complying with Covid-19 guidelines, a spokesman has said, after pictures emerged of the Irish PM socialising in a Dublin park with friends.

Photos of the taoiseach, shirtless and apparently enjoying a picnic with his partner Matthew Barrett and two friends, were posted on social media.

He was complying fully with Covid-19 guidelines, said his spokesperson.

He said Mr Varadkar was within the Republic of Ireland's 5km travel limit.

Some commentators had criticised Mr Varadkar for potentially setting a bad example during lockdown.

The current guidelines state groups of up to four people who are not from the same household can meet outdoors while keeping two metres apart.

Mr Varadkar is currently living on the Farmleigh Estate, which is located in Phoenix Park, near to where he was photographed.

According to the statement, the taoiseach has been staying in Steward's Lodge during the last few weeks as it has secure office and video conferencing facilities, which allows him to work from home.

The statement adds that, just like previous prime ministers, Mr Varadkar pays a nightly fee to use it.

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At a media briefing on Monday, the Republic of Ireland's chief medical officer, Tony Holohan, said the images of the picnic appeared to show respect for the rules.

"I didn't see any pictures that are in violation of that involving the Taoiseach," he said.

In its daily briefing on Monday, the Republic of Ireland reported no coronavirus-related deaths - the first time that has happened since 21 March. The country's official death toll is 1,606.