BY EMMA CONNOLLY
A BANTRY man has been the driving force behind new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for the past six years.
John O’Shea was the Fine Gael leader’s official driver during his career which saw him work in Transport, Tourism, Sport and Social Protection, before taking the country’s top job in politics.
Living in Dublin but originally from Donemark – between Bantry and Ballylickey – John said a highlight of their time together was driving Leo to West Cork in 2012 when he was Minister for Tourism.
John, who was attached to the detective branch of the gardaí for over 20 years, described the new leader as ‘brilliant to work for and first class’ revealing his taste in music was ‘eclectic’, ranging from metal, to hard rock and everything in between.
‘I’ve seen him develop and grow into a fantastic leader. He has a good temperament, a first class brain and genius-like IQ – I could not speak highly enough of him.’
Leo showed no signs of nerves on his big day yesterday, said John, who drove him to Leinster House for the last time where he was thanked for his years of service.
He drove members of the Varadkar family to Áras an Uachtaráin in the afternoon and on to other celebrations last night and having previously worked in close protection bodyguarding, he is considering his next career move.
While West Cork hasn’t had a minister for 13 years, the area has been represented well behind the wheel with Skibbereen man Denis Dwyer a former driver for Michael Noonan.
Meanwhile, at time of going to press, it appeared Deputy Jim Daly would have to wait until next week to find out if he is coming off the backbenches as a reward for backing Leo over Simon Coveney in the leadership contest. It’s speculated that the Cork South West deputy could be in line for a junior ministry as payback for his outspoken support of the new Taoiseach and agitation against Enda Kenny in recent months. It was confirmed, however, that Deputy Michael Creed will keep his Agriculture portfolio.