|Minister for Social Protection|
6 May 2016
|Preceded by||Joan Burton|
|Minister for Health|
11 July 2014 – 8 May 2016
|Preceded by||James Reilly|
|Succeeded by||Simon Harris|
|Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport|
9 March 2011 – 11 July 2014
|Preceded by||Pat Carey (Transport)|
|Succeeded by||Paschal Donohoe|
18 January 1979 |
Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland
|Political party||Fine Gael|
|Alma mater||Trinity College|
Leo Varadkar (born 18 January 1979) is an Irish Fine Gael politician, and the Minister for Social Protection since May 2016. 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 was Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport between 2011 and 2014 and Minister for Health between 2014 and 2016. He is a qualified medical doctor and became the first openly gay Irish government minister during his time at the Department of Health.
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. He is a former vice-president of the Youth of the European People's Party and an alumnus of the Washington Ireland Program.
Fingal County Council: 2003–2007
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.
Dáil Éireann: 2007–present
Varadkar 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).
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport: 2011–2014
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 European Central Bank. 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.
Minister for Health: 2014–2016
He was returned to the Dáil at the February 2016 general election. He retained the health portfolio in an acting capacity until May that year, due to a delay in government formation. In one of his final acts as Minister for Health, Varadkar cut €12 million from the €35 million allocated to that year's budget for mental health care. He was reported as having told the Dáil that the cuts were "necessary as the funding could be better used elsewhere."
Minister for Social Protection: 2016–present
During an interview on RTÉ 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". This made him the first openly gay cabinet member in Ireland, though not the first gay cabinet member, as became clear a short while later. Varadkar was a prominent advocate of the same-sex marriage referendum.
- "The Saturday Interview". The Irish Times. 20 November 2010.
- "Leo Varadkar". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
- "Mr. Leo Varadkar". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
- "Noonan named as new Finance Minister". RTÉ News. 9 March 2011.
- Sheahan, Fionnan (15 September 2011). "'True blue' Varadkar gets red card as Dáil officials flag problem". Irish Independent.
- "To borrow a phrase, Minister". The Irish Times. 1 June 2011.
- Bartha, Emese; Quinn, Eamon (30 May 2011). "Bond Auctions Test Contagion Fears". The Wall Street Journal.
- Collins, Stephen; Beesley, Arthur (31 May 2011). "Cabinet colleagues angered at Varadkar bailout view". The Irish Times.
- Noonan, Laura (10 June 2011). "Trichet talks 'verbal discipline' after Leo's gaffe". Irish Independent.
- O'Regan, Michael; O'Halloran, Marie (31 May 2011). "State 'won't require' second bailout". The Irish Times.
- Sheahan, Fionnan; Kelpie, Colm (1 June 2011). "Kenny lays down law to ministers after Varadkar's gaffe on bailout". Irish Independent.
- "Bailout comments were 'hyped up' – Varadkar". RTÉ News. 2 June 2011.
- "New gaffe is just one of a growing list". Evening Herald. 30 May 2011.
- "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.
- McKeowen, Michael (27 April 2016). "Varadkar: 'Mental health funding cuts were not supposed to happen but they are necessary as the funding could be better used elsewhere'". Archived from the original on 7 May 2016.
- "Leo Varadkar: 'I am a gay man', Minister says". The Irish Times. 18 January 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
- "Irish Cabinet member tells nation he's gay, becomes Ireland's 1st openly gay government minister". Fox News.
- "Leo Varadkar: 'I wanted to be an equal citizen . . . and today I am'". The Irish Times.
- Nial O'Connor (23 May 2015). "10 factors behind the 'Yes' side's victory". Independent.ie.
|Fine Gael Teachta Dála for Dublin West
as Minister for Transport
|Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport
|Minister for Health
|Minister for Social Protection