Ireland’s former equality minister Pat Carey has come out as gay.
The Fianna FÃ¡il minister has said current Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who came out last month, inspired him to do the same.
‘My only regret is that I didn’t have the courage or confidence to [come out while I was in politics],’ he told the Irish Times.
‘When I look back it’s an awful pity I didn’t feel able to do that. Nobody stopped me, but I wasn’t sure how it would be received.
‘I never had the confidence or the courage to do it, and it gets to a stage where you probably say to yourself "it’s too late for me to start talking about it now".’
He told RTE: ‘I didn’t have the courage or the confidence to talk about it to a wider audience. I’m sorry about that.
‘It was in the context of Leo Varadkar that I said that if I got the opportunity – that maybe my perspective might be helpful to other people of my age.
‘Lots of men and women, of my generation had the same difficulty that I had in terms of trying to come to terms with how you articulate your gender issues.’
Carey also used the opportunity to speak out for same-sex marriage ahead of the referendum in May.
‘I think getting people to come out and vote on the day of the referendum will be the biggest challenge,’ he said.
‘There has to be a campaign in place and political parties are the best equipped groups to organise these campaigns.’