Leo Varadkar to stand down as Taoiseach

Varadkar will step down from leader of Fine Gael after 7 years

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will step down as leader of Fine Gael, ending his term as leader of the country. 

In a speech outside Leinster House today, Varadkar listed his achievements as Fine Gael leader, using investments in technological universities and welcoming Ukrainian refugees en masse as examples. 

“Of course there are areas in which we have been much less successful”, he continued. 

”I know this will come as a surprise to many people, and a disappointment to some”, he said, adding that others will “cope with the news just fine”.  

“I don’t feel I’m the best person for the job anymore” he said, his voice somewhat straining while speaking. “I am deeply grateful for it”. 

“That’s it I have nothing else lined up, I have no personal or political plans”, he finished with, finally thanking the people of Ireland. 

Varadkar has served two terms as Taoiseach, firstly for three years from 2017 to 2020, and secondly from late 2022 to today as the latter half of the current coalition government. 

A Trinity medicine graduate, he has been a Teachta Dála for the Dublin West constituency since 2007, and held ministerial roles such as defence and health under former Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

He served as Tánaiste during the current coalition government from 2020 to late 2022, during which time Micheál Martin was Taoiseach. 

Varadkar skyrocketed to major prominence after he came out as gay during the 2013 marriage equality referendum. He is the first openly gay Taoiseach and first Taoiseach of colour.

In recent years, however, he has been rocked by scandals ranging from the leaking of confidential documents to his peers to the bending of travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This decision comes in the wake of Ciarán Cannon TD, also of Fine Gael, announcing that he will not run for re-election in the next General Election. This made him the 10th member of the Fine Gael parliamentary party to announce this. 

A Fine Gael leadership election will be triggered in the wake of this announcement. It is not yet clear who will enter a leadership contest.