Ireland's first gay prime minister enters office

2017-06-14 23:37
Leo Varadkar waves to colleagues as he leaves parliament in Dublin after being confirmed as taoiseach on June 14, 2017. (AFP)

Leo Varadkar waves to colleagues as he leaves parliament in Dublin after being confirmed as taoiseach on June 14, 2017. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dublin - Leo Varadkar promised a "republic of opportunity" on Wednesday after he became Ireland's youngest prime minister and the first who is openly gay.

The Dublin-born politician's Indian immigrant father and Irish mother were in parliament to watch as the 38-year-old was formally confirmed as taoiseach.

Varadkar, who won the leadership of the ruling centre-right Fine Gael party earlier in June, was confirmed by 57 votes to 50, with 47 abstentions.

In his acceptance speech, Varadkar emphasised youthful energy, arguing that the politics of the past were no longer fit for purpose.

"The government that I lead will not be one of left or right because those old divisions do not comprehend the political challenges of today," he said.

Varadkar takes over a minority government from Enda Kenny, who said his successor reflected a changed Ireland.

"As our youngest taoiseach, he represents a modern, diverse and inclusive Ireland and speaks for them like no other," Kenny said.

He added Varadkar would meet "head on" the challenge of Brexit, an issue of particular concern to Ireland as it shares the only EU land border with Britain.

Varadkar did not mention the government's Brexit strategy in his speech, but has previously warned against taking too tough a line with London in negotiations due to begin next week.

"It has always been the view of the party that we don't want to see Britain being punished" for voting to leave the EU, he said on June 2.

"We regret that decision but we do respect it and a 'hard Brexit', whether it's a hard Brexit driven from London or forced on London, is one in which Ireland could be a big loser," he said.

Varadkar confirmed he would meet this week with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland to discuss Brexit.

Although regarded as relatively liberal on social issues such as gender equality and abortion rights, Varadkar has been criticised by opposition parties for his right-wing economic views.

Adams said earlier that his party would vote against him noting that "not all young people are progressive" and expressing fears the new taoiseach would "drag this government even further to the right".

The abstention of the biggest opposition party, Fianna Fail, allowed Varadkar to gather the necessary vote required to lead a fragile minority government.

In a move designed to heal any divisions in his own party, Varadkar on Tuesday appointed the man he defeated, Simon Coveney, as deputy leader of Fine Gael.

As part of a cabinet reshuffle expected Wednesday evening, Coveney is widely expected to be appointed minister for foreign affairs, with a key role in communicating Ireland's position on Brexit.

Read more on:    dublin

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.