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 37)
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, 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.

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 studied at King's Hospital School, Palmerstown and Trinity College, where he earned a medical degree and joined Young Fine Gael.[1]

Personal life[edit]

During an interview on RTÉ 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".[2] He is the first openly gay cabinet member in Ireland.[3] Varadkar was a prominent advocate of the same-sex marriage referendum.[4][5]

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.[6] 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,[7] 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 a 4-seat constituency).[6] Fine Gael formed a coalition government with Labour and Varadkar was appointed Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport on 9 March 2011.[8] 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."[9]

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.[10][11] Many of Varadkar's cabinet colleagues were not impressed with Varadkar's forthrightness; nor was the European Central Bank.[12][13] 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.[14][15] Varadkar said that reaction to the story was hyped up but that he was not misquoted.[16] 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.[17][18]

In the cabinet reshuffle of July 2014, Varadkar replaced James Reilly as Minister for Health.[19][20]


  1. ^ "The Saturday Interview". The Irish Times. 20 November 2010. 
  2. ^ "Leo Varadkar: ‘I am a gay man’, Minister says". The Irish Times. 18 January 2015. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Irish Cabinet member tells nation he's gay, becomes Ireland's 1st openly gay government minister". Fox News. 
  4. ^ "Leo Varadkar: ‘I wanted to be an equal citizen . . . and today I am’". The Irish Times. 
  5. ^ Nial O'Connor (23 May 2015). "10 factors behind the 'Yes' side's victory". Independent.ie. 
  6. ^ a b "Leo Varadkar". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  7. ^ "Mr. Leo Varadkar". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 8 September 2009. 
  8. ^ "Noonan named as new Finance Minister". RTÉ News. 9 March 2011. 
  9. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan (15 September 2011). "'True blue' Varadkar gets red card as Dáil officials flag problem". Irish Independent. 
  10. ^ "To borrow a phrase, Minister". The Irish Times. 1 June 2011. 
  11. ^ Bartha, Emese; Quinn, Eamon (30 May 2011). "Bond Auctions Test Contagion Fears". The Wall Street Journal. 
  12. ^ Collins, Stephen; Beesley, Arthur (31 May 2011). "Cabinet colleagues angered at Varadkar bailout view". The Irish Times. 
  13. ^ Noonan, Laura (10 June 2011). "Trichet talks 'verbal discipline' after Leo's gaffe". Irish Independent. 
  14. ^ O'Regan, Michael; O'Halloran, Marie (31 May 2011). "State 'won't require' second bailout". The Irish Times. 
  15. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan; Kelpie, Colm (1 June 2011). "Kenny lays down law to ministers after Varadkar's gaffe on bailout". Irish Independent. 
  16. ^ "Bailout comments were 'hyped up' – Varadkar". RTÉ News. 2 June 2011. 
  17. ^ "New gaffe is just one of a growing list". Evening Herald. 30 May 2011. 
  18. ^ "Leo won't become king of the political jungle with his roaring gaffes". Evening Herald. 5 September 2008. 
  19. ^ "Taoiseach announces new Cabinet". RTÉ News. 11 July 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  20. ^ Kelly, Fiach (11 July 2014). "Leo Varadkar to replace Reilly as Minister for Health". The Irish Times. 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