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Here's what happened when I asked every TD in Ireland if they liked Love Actually

Leo Varadkar’s a fan, but are his colleagues? We found out.

giphy Source: Giphy

EARLIER THIS YEAR, Leo Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny to become both the leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach. A mere five days into his tenure as Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar visited 10 Downing Street, ostensibly to discuss Brexit, but really to geek out about being in the vicinity of where Hugh Grant once danced to The Pointer Sisters.

“It’s my first time in this building so there’s a little thrill in it as well,” he remarked. “We spoke on the way in and I was reminded of that famous scene in Love Actually where Hugh Grant does his dance down the stairs. But apparently, it wasn’t actually filmed here so I didn’t get a chance to see the stairs.”

In one fell swoop, Varadkar revealed himself to be a Love Actually aficionado, a remark that likely either endeared him to you or made you squirm, depending what side of the Love Actually divide you fall on.

As we approach Christmas and it becomes socially acceptable to watch Love Actually again, I decided to take it upon myself to survey Varadkar’s colleagues in Dáil Éireann about their feelings on the film.

I e-mailed every single deputy and asked three questions:

  1. Have you ever seen Love Actually? If so, did you like it? If not, do you plan on watching it this Christmas?
  2. Who or what is your favourite character and storyline?
  3. What is your favourite Christmas movie?

All in all, I received responses from 34 TDs across the political spectrum. Here are their responses.

John Brassil

John-Brassil Source: Fianna Fail

The Fianna Fáil TD is not only a fan of Love Actually, but he’s fairly serious about his Christmas films.

I have seen Love Actually many times and after serious consideration my favorite character and storyline is that played by Colin Firth. As for my favorite Christmas movie I’m torn between It’s A Wonderful Life and Home Alone. The first makes me cry [insert crying emoji here]. The second makes me laugh [insert smiley emoji here]. So it depends on my mood!

Declan Breathnach

Declan-Breathnach Source: Fianna Fáil

The Fianna Fáil TD has seen the seasonal romcom and admires its go get ‘em attitude.

Yes, I have seen Love Actually. Daniel and Sam’s storyline is brilliant they share such an important message: if you want something badly go after it. This is a great message for the holiday season and something that all young people should take from this movie.

The film that makes him well up at Christmas?

My favourite Christmas movie is A Christmas Carol- I never fail to cry during the final scene when Tiny Tim’s family have the best Christmas dinner ever all thanks to Ebenezer Scrooge!

Pat Buckley

pat-buckley Source: Sinn Fein

Sinn Féin’s Pat Buckley has not seen Love Actually and Leo Varadkar’s comments did little to persuade him he was missing out.

I haven’t seen it. It wouldn’t be my cup of tea I’d imagine but An Taoiseach’s endorsement has put me off it completely. (On his favourite character/storyline) I know there’s a Tony Blair knock off in it, so definitely not him.

Meanwhile his favourite Christmas film could not be more on-brand.

It’s not a Christmas film exactly but every year I sit down to rewatch The Wind That Shakes the Barley, predictable I know.

Mary Butler

Mary-Butler1 Source: Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fail’s Mary Butler says Love Actually isn’t her favourite Richard Curtis/Hugh Grant collaboration.

I have seen Love Actually. It wouldn’t be my favourite but I do love Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, which I have watched several times.

As for her favourite Christmas movie? It could only be one…

My favourite Christmas movie is Home Alone.

Sean Canney

portfolio Source: Sean Canney

Sean Canney has not seen Love Actually, but he has seen everyone’s Dad’s favourite film.

I have not seen the film Love Actually so I would not know any of the characters or storyline. My favourite film in general is Shawshank Redemption.

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

marcella_corcorankennedy_thumbnail Source: Fine Gael

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy has seen Love Actually and cites the infamous “A cinnamon stick, sir” scene as her highlight.

Yes, it was enjoyable and I will watch it again. Rowan Atkinson’s salesman wrapping the Christmas present. I liked the storyline about the little boy learning to drum to impress a girl in his class.

Her favourite Christmas film otherwise?

A Muppet Christmas Carol

John Curran

John-Curran Source: Fianna Fáil

Two things you need to know about John Curran: he has not seen Love Actually and he does not care for Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

I have not seen Love Actually. I will try to watch it this Christmas. My favourite Christmas Move is Home Alone (*The First One)

Jim Daly

jim_daly_thumbnail Source: Fine Gael

Jim Daly simply does not watch films, so watching Love Actually is out of the question.

I have not seen the movie. I rarely if ever watch a movie so unlikely I will see it anytime soon.

Regina Doherty

regina_doherty_thumbnail Source: Fine Gael

The Minister for Social Protection has seen the film, but has a strict one-and-done policy when it comes to watching films.

Yes, I have seen it – good movie but life’s too short to watch movies twice.
That said, her favourite Christmas film is…
Die Hard – all of them!

Paschal Donohoe

paschal_donohoe_thumbnail Source: Fine Gael

The Minister for Finance and self-professed music aficionado naturally pointed to the Bob Dylan homage as his personal highlight.

I have seen it and I liked it, although it wouldn’t be my favourite Christmas movie. I liked the homage paid to Bob Dylan in the scene with Keira Knightley when her husband’s friend (Andrew Lincoln) tells her how he feels with messages on big cards at the front door.
Asked what his favourite Chrismtas film was, he replied, “Bad Santa.” Who knew?

Alan Farrell

alan_farrell_thumbnail Source: Fine Gael

Fine Gael’s Alan Farrell is a Love Actually skeptic, but does have time for other Christmas films.

I watched the movie many years ago. I though it was mediocre and forgettable. I’m a fan of Miracle On 34th Street with Richard Attenborough. Failing that, Scrooged is an amusing personal favourite. With two boys under six, its a great opportunity to instill the meaning of Christmas with some older movies during the break.

Michael Fitzmaurice

michael-fitzmaurice Source: Michael Fitzmaurice

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has not seen Love Actually and has no intention of remedying that.

No I haven’t seen it and probably will not get around to seeing it this year.

His favourite Christmas film is Home Alone.

Charlie Flanagan

charlie_flanagan_thumbnail Source: Fine Gael

Keep your Die Hards and Home Alones. Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has a very left-field choice for his favourite Christmas film.

Amy Hi, yes I’ve seen Love Actually a number of times. However my all time favourite is ‘Christmas with the Kranks’ with Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. I have fond memories of watching it with my daughters about 12 years ago and to rekindle those lovely memories we watch it annually. Looking forward to seeing it again on Christmas Eve.

So now.

onesheet Source: Sony

Sean Fleming

Sean-Fleming1 Source: Fianna Fail

Following on from Charlie Flanagan’s revelation that Christmas with the Kranks is his favourite Christmas film, Fianna Fail’s Sean Fleming says his favourite Christmas film is The Holiday. Guess he’s a sucker for a Christmas rom-com, eh?

I have seen the film Love Actually on a few occasions. I watched it at home and enjoyed it. Favourite character Sarah, who was played by Martine McCutcheon who was very natural in the part. She was a great straight up front character and I would expect most people would have found her their favourite character in the storyline.
My favourite Christmas movie would certainly be The Holiday. The two separate story lines which were interwoven both in England and in America were two lovely stories, however in my opinion Cameron Diaz made the movie.

Pat The Cope Gallagher

Pat-The-Cope-Gallagher Source: Fianna Fail

Pat The Cope Gallagher will not be watching Love Actually this Christmas, but he appears to have a soft spot for this 1963 drama.

Never watched it, don’t really intend to watch. Not really a Christmas film but The Cardinal. I watched it one Christmas and really enjoyed it.

Michael Healy-Rae

e236339ebdfb5bfa66b9a18d52474030_400x400 Source: Michael Healy Rae/Twitter

The Kerryman kept his response short and sweet.

Didn’t see Love Actually.
It’s A Wonderful Life.

Martin Heydon

martin_heydon_thumbnail Source: Fine Gael

Like most sentient human beings, Fine Gael’s Martin Heydon was moved by Liam Neeson’s storyline in Love Actually. (No word on whether he approves of him moving on with Claudia Schiffer so soon after his wife’s death, though.)
I have seen Love Actually and enjoyed it. I like Liam Neeson’s character and watching his relationship with his son grow and develop. I think Willie Wonka and Chocolate factory would be my favourite Christmas movie, the original one!

Brendan Howlin

brendanhowlin_650x450 Source: Labour

Here’s what Brendan Howlin said when I asked if he had seen Love Actually.

No.

Okay then! As for his favourite Christmas film, that would be It’s A Wonderful Life.

James Lawless

James-Lawless Source: Fianna Fail

Fianna Fail’s James Lawless isn’t a Love Actually superfan…

I saw it years ago when it first came out, but I wouldn’t be a big romcom fan. I’d make honorable exceptions for My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Wedding Singer and Groundhog Day. Can’t remember enough about it to say. I can’t imagine I’ll be catching up on it this Christmas either, probably watch Jaws or Indiana Jones for the 100th time instead!

But he is a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation evangelist.

Without a doubt, National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation. It captures the madness, the rows, the seasonal ups and downs of every family and at the end of the day they all look out for each other. It’s both hilarious and heartwarming. There’s a bit of the Griswolds in all of us.

He also has a special place in his heart for Into The West.

I also have a soft spot for Into The West. The romance of ancient Ireland permeating even the urban fabric of Dublin and the tale of two boys seeking their mother’s spirit would warm the hardest of hearts!

Marc MacSharry

Marc-MacSharry-1 Source: Fianna Fail

Love Actually isn’t on Marc MacSharry’s agenda, thank you very much.

Never saw the movie so certainly not on my agenda in the same way as Taoiseach Varadkar on his inaugural Downing Street visit. As such I am unable to comment on characters or any other details in relation to the movie.

Tom Neville

tom_neville_thumbnail Source: Fine Gael

Fine Gael’s Tom Neville has not seen Love Actually, but seems to be a supporter of the Die Hard Is A Christmas Film movement.

I have never seen Love Actually. As Die Hard is set on Christmas Eve does that count as a Christmas Movie?

Mary Mitchell O’Connor

mary_mitchelloconnor_thumbnail Source: Fine Gael

Very good use of the word “rearing” from Mary Mitchell O’Connor here.

I have seen Love Actually and my favourite storyline and character is Daniel played by Liam Neeson. I think his storyline is the most poignant. I think a mum is the heart of a home especially at Christmas and to think his little fella is without a mum and his stepdad played my Neeson is rearing him alone always pulls at my heart strings. They have great onscreen chemistry.
Without a shadow of a doubt The Wizard of Oz. I know it’s not technically a Christmas themed movie but I remember so looking forward to it every Christmas and I loved watching it with my two when they were small.

Willie O’Dea

Willie-ODea-Website-Headshots Source: Fianna Fail

Like Mary Mitchell O’Connor before him, Willie O’Dea is a fan of Liam Neeson’s storyline in Love Actually.

Yes, I have seen Love Actually and I really enjoyed it. A great Christmas movie. My favourite characters were Liam Neeson and his son. I thought their storyline was very entertaining. My favourite Christmas movie is It’s A Wonderful Life, which I am sure to be watching this year. Have a lovely Christmas Amy !

Sean Ó Fearghail

Sean-O-Fearghail1 Source: Fianna Fail

The Ceann Comhairle has seen it but…

Yes, but didn’t particularly like it.

But he was able to make a dispensation for…

Bill Nighy and his character Billy Mack, the struggling musician!

His real favourite Christmas film?

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Kevin O’Keeffe

Kevin-OKeeffe Source: Fianna Fail

As Kevin O’Keeffe’s answer demonstrates, he is nothing if not loyal to his party.

Of course I’ve seen Love Actually, and I did enjoy it. My favourite character is Alan Rickman who played Harry for the simple fact that he played Eamon De Valera the founder of my party Fianna Fáil in the Michael Collins film.
My favourite Christmas film is Home Alone.

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Donnchadh-OLaoghaire Source: Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has yet to sit down and watch Love Actually.

Haven’t seen it. No specific plans to do so.

His favourite Christmas films are…

It’s a Wonderful Life. Or maybe Die Hard.

Update: Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has now seen the film and declared it to be “not bad at all actually”.

Fiona O’Loughlin

Fiona-OLoughlin Source: Fianna Fail

The Fianna Fáil deputy has seen the film, but remarked that it was a little flimsy despite the political undertones.

Yes, I have seen and enjoyed the film. It’s certainly lighthearted and fun, but hardly heavy on politics or policy!

She added that her favourite character is Billy Mack and her favourite Christmas film is The Snowman. A classic, tbh.

Maureen O’Sullivan

Maureen-O-Sullivan

The Dublin TD has seen Love Actually, but doesn’t have any standout favourites. She’s more of a Bing Crosby/Macauley Culkin gal.

I saw Love Actually and enjoyed it – no particular favourite in the film. Favourite Christmas movie is between Holiday Inn (long, long before your time) and Home Alone.

John Paul Phelan

johnpaul_phelan_thumbnail Source: Fine Gael

John Paul Phelan’s assessment of Love Actually?

Watched it. Very meh.
Not a patch on his favourite, so.
It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s just a classic really.

Thomas Pringle

Thomas-Ballot-Pic1 Source: Thomas Pringle

Thomas Pringle was having none of my guff.

The answer is no to the first two questions and I don’t have a favourite Christmas movie.

Maurice Quinlivan

maurice-quinlivan Source: Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein’s Maurice Quinlivan is actually a regular Love Actually viewer and counts himself among the fans of the Martine McCutcheon/Hugh Grant/Billy Bob Thornton love triangle.

Yes I have seen it many times and I do like it. Like Willy Wonka it is kinda part of Christmas viewing now.
Natalie obviously and the best storyline is when David sees the US president kissing her and then disses him in the subsequent press conference.

His favourite Christmas film isn’t the most orthodox choice, but does indicate a fondness for Hugh Grant.

About a Boy! Can’t decide what the best part is. Is it when Marcus sings Killing Me Softly at his school’s Christmas concert? Or is it when Will becomes Marcus’s friend after defending him to a park ranger when Marcus accidentally kills a duck with his mother’s loaf of bread.

 Anne Rabbitte

Anne-Rabbitte Source: Fianna Fail

Fianna Fáil’s Anne Rabbitte is both a Love Actually believer and a Mariah Carey fan.

Yes, I have seen it. A medley of love stories tied together by the magic of Christmas.
Of course it has to be the David & Natalie storyline along with the “All I Want For Christmas For You” song we all love.

As for her house’s favourite Christmas films?

The festive family giggles in my house with my children is always The Santa Clause with Tim Allen and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory is a must see in our house every Christmas.

Eamon Scanlon

Eamon-Scanlon Source: Fianna Fail

The Fianna Fail deputy kept it brief.

I haven’t seen Love Actually. Favourite would be Home Alone.

Sean Sherlock

seansherlock_650x450 Source: Labour

Labour’s Sean Sherlock is a fan…

Yes, I liked it the first time.

Even if his favourite storyline is a little on-the-nose for a politician.

Hugh Grant and Martine McCutcheon… I know… a cliché

His personal favourite?

It’s A Wonderful Life, gets me every time.

Peadar Tóibín

peadartoibin Source: Sinn Fein

Sinn Fein’s Peadar Tóibín has never managed to watch Love Actually in its entirety and, frankly, will be happy if he never watches it for the rest of his life.

I have never managed to sit through the whole of the film. I have no plans to watch it for the next 40 years or so.
Finally, Tóibín’s favourite Christmas film is…
I’m a sucker for It’s A Wonderful Life and try to watch it once over the Christmas. A story of the real value of one person person’s life despite the despair of a banking crisis, it has a real resonance in our own generation.

Stray observations

  • Leo Varadkar did not respond to my request for comment, but we can probably safely conclude that he’s a fan of the David/Natalie storyline.
  • It’s A Wonderful Life and Home Alone are among Dáil Éireann’s favourite Christmas films, followed closely by Die Hard.
  • No shout-outs for Emma Thompson :( This is why we need more women in politics.
  • I want to watch Love Actually now.

More: Here’s what happened when I asked every TD in Ireland if they liked Beyoncé >

Here’s what happened when I asked every TD if they’d ever enjoyed a bag of cans >

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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