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Leo Varadkar quits role of Taoiseach in shock decision

On March 20th at 12:00pm, Leo Varadkar made the shock decision to step down from his role as Taoiseach of Ireland and leader of the Fine Gael party. Varadkar announced this decision in front of the Dáil surrounded by his colleagues. This decision was unanticipated and came as a shock to members of the general public. Varadkar cited no longer being the best man for the job as his reason for stepping down from his post. There has been speculation that the disappointing results of the latest referendum concerning care, women in the home and family for Fine Gael may have contributed to this sudden resignation, in which Fine Gael campaigned for a yes vote. The general public voted no on this referendum by a large margin of 67% to 33%.

Varadkar began his political career in 2003 when he began serving on the Fingal county council. He was elected to Dáil Éireann in 2007 and was appointed to the cabinet of Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2011. He served as the minister for health from 2014-2016 and the minister for social protection from 2016-2017. He campaigned for the legality of same-sex marriage, during which he came out is gay. He was made Taoiseach in 2017, where he became Ireland’s first openly gay Taoiseach. He served in this position for three years. In 2020, after a general election, Fine Gael went into coalition with Fine Fáil and the Green Party. Varadkar assumed the role of Tánaiste in 2020, after making an agreement that would see a rotation in the role of Taoiseach. Míchael Martin served as Taoiseach from 2020-2022 before Varadkar took on the role again. Varadkar will remain Taoiseach until a successor is appointed.

Some have called for a general election, stating that a Fine Gael government without Varadkar as Taoiseach is not something that the general public voted for. There has been speculation regarding who is going to replace Varadkar as Taoiseach. Simon Harris, current minister for further and higher education, research, innovation and science of Ireland, has announced that he will be campaigning to assume this role. The new candidate will be chosen by the Dáil and must have support from at least six Fine Gael TDs, or MEPs to become a candidate. It is speculated that Simon Coveney, current minister for enterprise, trade and employment of Ireland may challenge Harris for this position. The new Taoiseach will be appointed after the Easter recess when the Dáil returns.

photographed by Zeeshan Kundi
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