Leo Varadkar

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Leo Varadkar
Minister for Health
Assumed office
11 July 2014
Preceded by James Reilly
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
In office
9 March 2011 – 11 July 2014
Preceded by Pat Carey
Succeeded by Paschal Donohoe
Teachta Dála
Assumed office
June 2007
Constituency Dublin West
Personal details
Born (1979-01-18) 18 January 1979 (age 35)
Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Fine Gael
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin
Website www.leovaradkar.ie

Leo Varadkar (born 18 January 1979) is an Irish Fine Gael politician. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin West constituency since June 2007,[1] and Minister for Health since July 2014.[2]

Early and private life[edit]

Varadkar was born in Dublin, the son of an Indian father (a retired GP in Blanchardstown) and a mother from County Waterford. He was educated at King's Hospital School, Palmerstown and Trinity College, Dublin, where he qualified as a medical doctor, and was a member of the Young Fine Gael branch.[3]

Political career[edit]

Varadkar was co-opted to Fingal County Council in 2003 to replace Sheila Terry. At the 2004 local elections, he was elected to the council to represent the Castleknock local electoral area, polling the highest first preference vote in the country.[4] He is a former vice-president of the Youth of the European People's Party and an alumnus of the Washington Ireland Program. He was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 2007 general election. He was party spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment from 2007–2010.

Varadkar was accused of being a racist for suggesting to offer a payment to unemployed immigrants in return for leaving Ireland and returning to their home country.[5][6] He denied that he was scapegoating Africans.[6]

In March 2010, members of his own party criticised Varadkar after he compared Taoiseach Brian Cowen, with former Fine Gael leader Garret FitzGerald for trebling the national debt and effectively destroyed the country. He said the Taoiseach should 'enjoy writing boring articles in The Irish Times' in a few years time – another reference to FitzGerald.[7]

In June 2010, Varadkar and a number of other party frontbenchers stated that they had no confidence in their party leader, Enda Kenny. A subsequent confidence motion in the leader was won.[8] Varadkar was re-appointed to the Front Bench as spokesperson for Communications and Natural Resources.[9]

Ministerial career[edit]

At the 2011 general election, Varadkar was re-elected to Dáil Éireann with 8,359 first preference votes (a 19.7% share of the poll in the 4-seat constituency)[4] and was appointed Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport on 9 March 2011.[10] This was considered a surprise appointment as Varadkar was not renowned as a sports lover. He stated: "I know a lot of facts. I don't play the sports."[11]

In May 2011, Varadkar suggested Ireland was "very unlikely" to resume borrowing in 2012 and might need a second bailout, causing jitters on international markets about Ireland's credibility.[12][13] This angered many of Varadkar's cabinet colleagues and caused comment at the ECB.[14][15] Taoiseach Enda Kenny repeated the Government view that the State will not require a further EU-IMF bailout and said he had spoken to all ministers, warning them about what they say in public regarding the country's economic position.[16][17] Varadkar said that reaction to the story was hyped up but that he was not misquoted.[18] The Evening Herald has described Varadkar as gaffe prone.[19][20]

In November 2011, Varadkar criticised the Irish tourism industry, specifically restaurants, bars and shops, as not being up to scratch and spoke of his desire to split Cork, Dublin and Shannon Airports, the three state-owned airports, so that they could compete against each other.[21]

In July 2014, during the cabinet reshuffle, Leo Varadkar replaced James Reilly as Minister for Health .[22][23]


  1. ^ "Mr. Leo Varadkar". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  2. ^ "Taoiseach announces new Cabinet". RTÉ News. 11 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Saturday Interview". The Irish Times. 20 November 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Leo Varadkar". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  5. ^ "Foreign jobless 'paid to go' call". BBC News. 4 September 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  6. ^ a b Kerr, Aine (10 September 2008). "Fine Gael dole proposal racist, says Hanafin". Irish Independent. Retrieved 10 September 2009. 
  7. ^ "Varadkar asked to withdraw FitzGerald remark". RTÉ News. 24 March 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  8. ^ "Kenny survives confidence vote". RTÉ News. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  9. ^ "Bruton & Noonan return to Fine Gael frontbench". RTÉ News. 1 July 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  10. ^ "Noonan named as new Finance Minister". RTÉ News. 9 March 2011. 
  11. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan (15 September 2011). "'True blue' Varadkar gets red card as Dáil officials flag problem". Irish Independent. 
  12. ^ "To borrow a phrase, Minister". The Irish Times. 1 June 2011. 
  13. ^ Bartha, Emese; Quinn, Eamon (30 May 2011). "Bond Auctions Test Contagion Fears". The Wall Street Journal. 
  14. ^ Collins, Stephen; Beesley, Arthur (31 May 2011). "Cabinet colleagues angered at Varadkar bailout view". The Irish Times. 
  15. ^ Noonan, Laura (10 June 2011). "Trichet talks 'verbal discipline' after Leo's gaffe". Irish Independent. 
  16. ^ O'Regan, Michael; O'Halloran, Marie (31 May 2011). "State 'won't require' second bailout". The Irish Times. 
  17. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan; Kelpie, Colm (1 June 2011). "Kenny lays down law to ministers after Varadkar's gaffe on bailout". Irish Independent. 
  18. ^ "Bailout comments were 'hyped up' – Varadkar". RTÉ News. 2 June 2011. 
  19. ^ "New gaffe is just one of a growing list". Evening Herald. 30 May 2011. 
  20. ^ "Leo won't become king of the political jungle with his roaring gaffes". Evening Herald. 5 September 2008. 
  21. ^ Deegan, Gordon (7 November 2011). "Varadkar tells tourist industry to sharpen up". Irish Independent. 
  22. ^ Kelly, Fiach (11 July 2014). "Leo Varadkar to replace Reilly as Minister for Health". 
  23. ^ "Varadkar is Health Minister as Kenny confirms Cabinet reshuffle". Irish Indendent. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Joe Higgins
(Socialist Party)
Fine Gael Teachta Dála for Dublin West
Political offices
Preceded by
Pat Carey
as Minister for Transport
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
Succeeded by
Paschal Donohoe
Preceded by
James Reilly
Minister for Health