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 36)
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, and the Minister for Health since 2014. A Young Fine Gael veteran and Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin West constituency since June 2007, Varadkar is a former vice-president of the Youth of the European People's Party and an alumnus of the Washington Ireland Program. He is a qualified medical doctor and the first openly gay Irish government minister.

Early 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 became a member of Young Fine Gael.[1]

Political career[edit]

Varadkar was co-opted to Fingal County Council in 2003 as a replacement for Sheila Terry. At the 2004 local elections, he was elected to the council to represent the Castleknock local electoral area and topped the poll.[2] 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,[3] and became party spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade and Employment from 2007–2010.

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).[2] Fine Gael formed a coalition government with Labour and Varadkar was appointed Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport on 9 March 2011.[4] 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."[5]

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.[6][7] Many of Varadkar's cabinet colleagues were not impressed with Varadkar's forthrightness; nor was the ECB.[8][9] Taoiseach Enda Kenny repeated the Government line that the State would not require a further EU-IMF bailout and said he had warned all ministers against making negative public remarks about the economy.[10][11] Varadkar said that reaction to the story was hyped up but that he was not misquoted.[12] Responding to Varadkar's decision to express his opinion in public, Independent News & Media's Evening Herald paper described the minister as gaffe prone, as it had also done previously.[13][14]

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 they could compete against each other.[15]

In the cabinet reshuffle of July 2014, Varadkar replaced James Reilly as Minister for Health.[16][17][18]

Personal life[edit]

During an interview on national radio on 18 January 2015 (his 36th birthday), Varadkar spoke publicly for the first time about being gay. He said: "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".[19] Fiach Kelly, in his analysis for The Irish Times, wrote "Leo Varadkar’s brave interview will be seen as a significant moment in Irish society, a future clip on Reeling in the Years [...] A senior minister coming out probably wouldn't have happened even ten years ago [...] He is one of the highest profile and most able politicians of his generation, widely seen as a possible future leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach. He is one of the most visible people in the country. His face is on television, on websites and in newspapers every day."[20] Varadkar is the first openly gay cabinet member in the history of Ireland.[21]


  1. ^ "The Saturday Interview". The Irish Times. 20 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Leo Varadkar". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  3. ^ "Mr. Leo Varadkar". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  4. ^ "Noonan named as new Finance Minister". RTÉ News. 9 March 2011. 
  5. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan (15 September 2011). "'True blue' Varadkar gets red card as Dáil officials flag problem". Irish Independent. 
  6. ^ "To borrow a phrase, Minister". The Irish Times. 1 June 2011. 
  7. ^ Bartha, Emese; Quinn, Eamon (30 May 2011). "Bond Auctions Test Contagion Fears". The Wall Street Journal. 
  8. ^ Collins, Stephen; Beesley, Arthur (31 May 2011). "Cabinet colleagues angered at Varadkar bailout view". The Irish Times. 
  9. ^ Noonan, Laura (10 June 2011). "Trichet talks 'verbal discipline' after Leo's gaffe". Irish Independent. 
  10. ^ O'Regan, Michael; O'Halloran, Marie (31 May 2011). "State 'won't require' second bailout". The Irish Times. 
  11. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan; Kelpie, Colm (1 June 2011). "Kenny lays down law to ministers after Varadkar's gaffe on bailout". Irish Independent. 
  12. ^ "Bailout comments were 'hyped up' – Varadkar". RTÉ News. 2 June 2011. 
  13. ^ "New gaffe is just one of a growing list". Evening Herald. 30 May 2011. 
  14. ^ "Leo won't become king of the political jungle with his roaring gaffes". Evening Herald. 5 September 2008. 
  15. ^ Deegan, Gordon (7 November 2011). "Varadkar tells tourist industry to sharpen up". Irish Independent. 
  16. ^ Kelly, Fiach (11 July 2014). "Leo Varadkar to replace Reilly as Minister for Health". The Irish Times. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "Taoiseach announces new Cabinet". RTÉ News. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Varadkar is Health Minister as Kenny confirms Cabinet reshuffle". Irish Independent. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  19. ^ Carbery, Genevieve. "Leo Varadkar". Irish Times, 18 January, 2015. Retrieved 18 January, 2015.
  20. ^ Kelly, Fiach (18 January 2015). "Leo Varadkar interview a significant moment in public life: Prominence in public coming out by leading Minister of traditionally conservative party". The Irish Times. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  21. ^ "Irish Cabinet member tells nation he's gay, becomes Ireland's 1st openly gay government minister". Fox News. 

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