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When my Irish Father first took myself, my brother and sister as children to visit Ireland, Leo Varadkar was not even born. The Republic’s new Taioseach was born on 18th January 1979. He was appointed leader of Fine Gael on 2nd June 2017 and appointed Taioseach on 14 June 2017 by Dáil Éireann at the tender age of 38. Not only is Leo Ireland’s first openly gay Prime Minister, he’s also the son of an Indian immigrant meaning that Leo is the first Gay Taioseach, first child of an immigrant to become Taioseach and the youngest Taioseach in Ireland’s history!
Leo Varadkar’s political career began in earnest in 2003 when he was co-opt onto Fingal County Council in place of Sheila Terry. In 2004 he was elected in his own right. In 2007 Leo was elected to the Dáil as TD for the Dublin West Constituency becoming Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in 2011 and then Minister for Health in 2014 to 2016 during which time he came out as gay becoming Ireland’s first openly gay serving Minister.
Leo, having qualified as a GP in 2010 having served for several years as a Junior Doctor, spoke in an interview on his 36th birthday about his background and sexuality:
“It’s not something that defines me. I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am, it doesn’t define me, it is part of my character I suppose”
Outgoing Taioseach Enda Kenny offered his ‘heartiest congratulations’ to Varadkar, saying ‘this is a tremendous honour for him and I know he will devote his life to improving the lives of people across our country’.
Varadkar in his first speech as Taioseach stated that his Government would be one of the “new European Centre” and among first acts as Taoiseach was to announce that a referendum on abortion would be held in 2018. He also said that the government would lay out a road map for how to achieve a low carbon economy.