|Minister for Health|
11 July 2014
|Preceded by||James Reilly|
|Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport|
9 March 2011 – 11 July 2014
|Preceded by||Pat Carey|
|Succeeded by||Paschal Donohoe|
18 January 1979 |
|Political party||Fine Gael|
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Dublin|
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, he 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.
Varadkar was born in Dublin, the son of an Indian father (a retired GP in Blanchardstown) and a mother from County Waterford. He studied at King's Hospital School, Palmerstown and Trinity College, where he earned a medical degree and joined Young Fine Gael.
During an interview on national radio on 18 January 2015 (his 36th birthday), Varadkar spoke publicly for the first time about being gay: "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". He is the first openly gay cabinet member in Ireland.
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. 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, and became party spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade and Employment from 2007–2010.
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 a 4 seat constituency). Fine Gael formed a coalition government with Labour and Varadkar was appointed Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport on 9 March 2011. This was considered a surprise appointment as Varadkar was not renowned as a sports lover. He said that while he knew "a lot of facts...I don't play the sports."
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. Many of Varadkar's cabinet colleagues were not impressed with Varadkar's forthrightness; nor was the ECB. 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. Varadkar said that reaction to the story was hyped up but that he was not misquoted. 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.
- "The Saturday Interview". The Irish Times. 20 November 2010.
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- "Leo won't become king of the political jungle with his roaring gaffes". Evening Herald. 5 September 2008.
- "Taoiseach announces new Cabinet". RTÉ News. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
- Kelly, Fiach (11 July 2014). "Leo Varadkar to replace Reilly as Minister for Health". The Irish Times. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
|Fine Gael Teachta Dála for Dublin West
as Minister for Transport
|Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
|Minister for Health