Which politicians have admitted taking illegal drugs? – Extra.ie
On Wednesday night the nation was gripped with a heady mixture of delight and second-hand mortification when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar took a whole 12 seconds to answer a question about whether he had ever taken illegal drugs.
It is not often we see the Taoiseach lost for words, but he seemed to have been totally blindsided by Pat Kenny’s question during the Virgin Media leaders’ debate.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin wasn’t the only one smirking as Mr Varadkar visibly squirmed and responded that he had answered the same question truthfully in an interview with music magazine Hot Press in 2010, concluding: ‘Yes, obviously it was a long time ago’ — cue Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy.
In the Hot Press interview the Taoiseach was referencing, he said that he had not experimented with ecstasy or other illegal substances since he was elected to office, adding that he had smoked cannabis in his college years ‘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’.
As it turns out, Leo isn’t the only Irish politician who has admitted to taking illegal drugs in their youth.
Extra.ie has compiled a list of the politicians from Ireland and further afield who have admitted to taking illegal drugs in the past.
The former US President’s 1995 autobiography Dreams of My Father contained a frank admission of drug use, as Obama confessed that he had taken both marijuana and cocaine while in high school and college.
Just before he left office in 2016, Obama reiterated this admission in an interview with rapper Macklemore, saying: ‘When I was a teenager I used drugs, I drank, I pretty much tried whatever was out there. But I was in Hawaii and it was a pretty relaxed place.’
We have another edgy Democrat on our hands in former US President Bill Clinton who famously admitted in a 1992 interview that he had tried marijuana at Oxford University, saying: ‘When I was in England I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale and I didn’t try it again’.
Just for the record, Clinton also ‘did not have sexual relations with that woman’.
The UK Prime Minister’s squeaky clean, wholesome family man image is legendary but amazingly, Boris Johnson did dabble with illegal drugs in his youth.
Although he may never reach Theresa May levels of ‘running through a hay field’ rebelliousness, Boris Johnson admitted to having taken cocaine in his university days during a 2007 interview with GQ.
At least, the UK Prime Minister certainly believed he was taking cocaine at the time, although he did express his doubts about the substance’s authenticity on satirical current affairs show Have I Got News For You in 2005, saying: ‘I think I was once given cocaine but I sneezed and so it did not go up my nose.
‘In fact, I may have been doing icing sugar.’
While Boris Johnson’s flirtation with cocaine may have been as naughty as a child messing with their mother’s baking supplies, his Conservative Party colleague Michael Gove has left no doubts about his own history with illegal drugs.
The British media had a field day in June 2019, when the rather unlikely suspect Gove admitted to using cocaine on several occasions in the past.
Speaking to the Daily Mail right in the middle of the Conservative Party leadership contest, Gove confessed: ‘I took drugs on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago. At the time I was a young journalist. It was a mistake. I look back and I think, I wish I hadn’t done that.’
There appears to be a bit of a trend among the British posh boys turned senior Conservative politicians here, as former UK Prime Minister David Cameron admitted that he got ‘off his head’ on cannabis while at the prestigious boarding school Eton.
When he was vying for the Conservative Party leadership in 2005, Cameron also made a veiled allusion to further drug use while at university, saying: ‘I had a normal university experience. There were things that I did then that I don’t think that I should talk about now I’m a politician.’
Of course, various pig-related rumours have indicated that Cameron’s idea of a ‘normal university experience’ might be slightly more outre than most.
Leo Varadkar isn’t the only Taoiseach to go on the record with Hot Press to admit to illegal drug use, as former Taoiseach Brian Cowen also confessed to using cannabis in his youth.
The Offaly man said: ‘Anyone who went to the UCD bar in the ‘70s that didn’t get a whiff of marijuana would be telling you a lie. I would say there were a couple of occasions when it was passed around — and, unlike President Clinton, I did inhale!
Cowen added: ‘There wasn’t a whole lot in it really — (it was like) a Sweet Afton, as a 10-year-old, under a railway bridge on a rainy day, in small town Ireland in the late ‘60s. I certainly got more enjoyment out of a few pints.’
Michael D Higgins
In a 2011 interview with the Irish Independent, President Michael D Higgins admitted smoking marijuana while at the University of Indiana.
The Galway man said that he never took drugs in any other form during his ‘rock ‘n’ roll drinking years’, claiming: ‘I saw people try LSD but I would have been terrified because of those I saw become dependant on drugs.’
In the wake of the Taoiseach’s reiterated admission on Wednesday night’s debate, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan also admitted to smoking cannabis in his youth.
Speaking to The Irish Sun, the Dublin man said he had smoked cannabis ‘ages ago’, revealing that he had experimented with the drug when he was in his 20s.
Co-leader of the Social Democrats also admitted to dabbling with cannabis during an interview with Hot Press in 2016.
The Kildare woman said that she smoked cannabis a few times as a teenager.
Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has joined the ranks of senior Irish politicians who have admitted to taking illegal drugs, telling The Irish Sun: ‘As a young man I smoked cannabis. I have not taken any other illegal substances.’
Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan
Roscommon MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan has made no secret of his fondness for cannabis, and has long campaigned for the drug’s legalisation.
Speaking to the Irish Mail on Sunday in 2013, Flanagan outlined his experience with Class A drugs, arguing that the Government should consider the legalisation of various substances.
Flanagan said: ‘I didn’t like my experience when I tried cocaine on about two, I think maybe two occasions, maybe three occasions. I never really liked it. Never saw what it was about.
‘I found acid disconcerting. Acid, magic mushrooms and psychedelic drugs are drugs that people underestimate at their peril. I think there is a general underestimation of how scary and dangerous they can potentially be to some people.’
This article originally appeared here in https://extra.ie/2020/01/25/news/politics/leo-varadkar-politicians-illegal-drugs