Leo Varadkar: I am no longer the godfather to be Irish Prime Minister

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By journalsofus.com


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Watch: Irish Prime Minister fights back tears as he announces his resignation

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar will resign immediately as party leader and will resign as taoiseach as soon as his Fine Gael successor is selected.

Announcing his resignation, Varadkar described leading his country as “the most satisfying moment of my life.”

He said he was resigning for “personal and political” reasons and that he was “no longer the best person for the job.”

He was Ireland’s youngest prime minister when he became leader of Fine Gael at age 38 in 2017.

He currently leads the coalition government in Dublin, alongside Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

Speaking from the steps of government buildings in Dublin on Wednesday, Varadkar said he had “taken Ireland from unemployment to full employment, from budget deficit to budget surplus, from austerity to prosperity.”

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Varadkar said he felt he was no longer “the best person for the job.”

Varadkar added that he was “proud to have made the country a more equal and modern place when it comes to children’s rights, the LGBT community, women’s equality and their bodily autonomy.”

During his tenure as taoiseach, Varadkar advocated for referendums to change the Irish constitution that legalized same-sex marriage and abortion.

Varadkar also cited among his achievements work to improve childcare affordability, as well as increasing government spending on arts and culture, international development and public infrastructure.

He also admitted that “there are areas in which we have been much less successful,” but added: “I hope you will forgive me if I let others point them out to you on a day like this.”

Why did Leo Varadkar resign?

Varadkar said his reasons for resigning were “both personal and political.”

He said he felt the current government “could be re-elected” but was “no longer the best person for the job.”

Image source, Nick Bradshaw

When will the next general election be in Ireland?

Irish government parties have said they do not expect Wednesday’s announcement to trigger a general election.

In the 2020 election, Varadkar led his party to third place in terms of number of seats in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the country’s parliament.

As part of the coalition agreement reached between the parties, it was agreed that Varadkar and Micheál Martin would each serve as taoiseach for two years.

Following the announcement of Varadkar’s resignation, Martin said he was “surprised” by the decision.

“I want to take the opportunity to sincerely thank you, we get on very well,” added Mr Martin.

Martin said he remained committed to delivering the full mandate of the coalition government.

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Micheál Martin was “surprised” when he learned that Varadkar would resign

Eamon Ryan, leader of the Green Party, the smallest of the three coalition partners, said Varadkar had been “an energetic and committed leader of the country who always supported his government colleagues”.

Ryan said his party was looking forward to the Fine Gael leadership contest and the election of a new taoiseach.

In the meantime, he said, the government will continue to carry out its mandate.

“I would like to offer my best wishes to Leo as he prepares to leave the Taoiseach’s office,” he added.

‘Being left without a path’

Speaking in the Dáil, (the lower house of the Irish parliament), Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, leader of the opposition, called for a general election.

He said it was “unthinkable” that the next taoiseach would be chosen by a “conclave” of Fine Gael politicians.

“This is the time for new leadership. Not just a change of taoiseach, but a change of government and a change of leadership,” he said.

McDonald claimed that when Fine Gael took power in 2011, Ireland had one of the highest levels of home ownership in Europe, but had since fallen to one of the worst.

“This government has now run out of steam and no path, so instead of continuing to limp along in a caring capacity, let’s turn to the people,” he said.

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Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill (left) called a general election in the Republic of Ireland.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wished Leo Varadkar well following his resignation.

A spokesman said the prime minister would “work closely with him and his successor”.

“Ireland is a vital partner of the United Kingdom,” the spokesperson added.

Northern Ireland First Minister Michelle ‘O’Neill also said it was “time to have an election” in the Republic of Ireland.

“Now is not the time to rearrange sun loungers,” said the Sinn Féin vice president.

He described Fine Gael’s time in power as “13 years of failure”.

Deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly said: “Leo Varadkar and unionism did not always see eye to eye, if at all.”

However, the Democratic Unionist Party MLA wished him “all the best”.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he and Varadkar were “very often at different ends of the political spectrum”.

“We differ in the Republic of Ireland’s approach to legacy, and we differ sharply in their approach and attitude on the issue. [Northern Ireland] Protocol and the constitutional future of Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Where we differed, we did so with respect.”

Sir Jeffrey added that there were other areas where they worked together on matters of mutual benefit “for both of our countries”.

The president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, was informed of the taoiseach’s intention to resign shortly before Wednesday’s press conference and the two spoke immediately afterwards.

A spokesman for the president said: “In the course of this, the president thanked the taoiseach for his service.”

Who could be the next taoiseach?

Minister of Business, Commerce and Employment Simon Coveney51-year-old deputy leader of Fine Gael, has been ruled out.

Speaking on RTÉ, he said he made the decision “quite some time ago” not to contest another leadership contest after losing to Varadkar in 2017.

An emergency meeting of Fine Gael’s National Executive will be held on Wednesday night to begin the process of selecting a new leader.

This process should take 18 or 19 days, Coveney said.

He added that there “may well be” more than one candidate.

Image source, fake images

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Higher Education Minister Simon Harris is the early favorite for many bookmakers.

At the moment four names are mentioned.

Minister of Higher and Continuing Education Simon Harris37 years old, is the initial favorite in many bookmakers.

He gained a high profile as health minister when the Republic of Ireland voted to amend its constitution to legalize abortion in 2018 and subsequently served as justice minister.

Helen McEntee He became a TD at the age of 26, succeeding his father after he took his own life.

Image source, Niall Carson

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After widespread disorder in Dublin last year, Helen McEntee faced calls to resign from opposition parties.

In 2017 she assumed the prominent position of Minister of State for European Affairs and in June 2020 she was promoted to Minister of Justice.

Following widespread rioting in Dublin in November 2023, he faced calls for his resignation from opposition parties.

Pascual Donohoe He is Minister of Public Expenditure and was previously Minister of Finance from 2017 to 2022, arguably the second most important position in the cabinet.

The Dublin Central representative is also president of the Eurogroup, which brings together eurozone finance ministers in informal meetings.

Minister of Social Protection Heather Humphreys represents the Cavan-Monaghan constituency which borders Northern Ireland.

In addition to her senior cabinet role, she covered the Ministry of Justice for two terms while McEntee took maternity leave.

If she were to become taoiseach, she would be the first Protestant to hold the position.

You can follow ongoing coverage of the fallout from the Irish Taoiseach’s resignation live with BBC News on iPlayer.

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