Born In: Dublin, Ireland
Leo Varadkar is an Irish politician and physician. In 2020, he was appointed Tánaiste and minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. In June 2017, he succeeded Enda Kenny as the leader of the ‘Fine Gael Party’ and was soon nominated as Taoiseach (prime minister) by ‘Dáil Éireann’ (the Assembly of Ireland), which was approved by the president of Ireland. A professionally qualified doctor, Varadkar was the health minister from 2014 to 2016. He has also served as the minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the minister of Social Protection. The son of an Indian immigrant, he came out publicly as gay in 2015, becoming the first openly gay Irish government minister and the first Irish minister of Indian origin. Politically active since his college days, he ventured deep into politics in the late-2000s. Elected to ‘Dáil Éireann’ in 2007, he went on to hold many important positions in the Irish government, earning a reputation for being a highly intelligent, honest, and hardworking man. His appointment as the prime minister is significant in the political history of Ireland due to several reasons; he is not only the country’s first openly gay Taoiseach, but also the youngest and the first of Indian origin.
Also Known As: Leo Eric Varadkar
father: Ashok Varadkar
mother: Miriam Varadkar
siblings: Sonia Varadkar, Sophie Varadkar
Partner: Matthew Barrett (2015–)
Born Country: Ireland
Ancestry: Indian Irish
Grouping of People: Gay
City: Dublin, Ireland
education: Trinity College Dublin
Leo Varadkar was born on 18 January 1979, in Dublin, Ireland, to Ashok Varadkar and his wife Miriam (née Howell). His father is a Hindu doctor of Indian origin, while his mother is an Irish Catholic nurse. He has two sisters, Sophie and Sonia.
Varadkar attended ‘St Francis Xavier National School,’ Blanchardstown, before moving to Palmerstown where he studied at ‘The King's Hospital’ for his secondary-level education. He developed an early interest in politics and joined the political party ‘Fine Gael’ during his secondary schooling.
After the completion of his schooling, he enrolled at the ‘Trinity College,’ Dublin (TCD). He initially studied law before switching to medicine. During his college days, he served as vice-president of the ‘Youth of the European People's Party,’ the youth wing of the ‘European People's Party.’
Intelligent, hardworking, and determined, he was selected for the prestigious ‘Washington Ireland Program,’ a six-month program of personal and professional development, meant for ambitious young people with leadership skills. He completed the program in 2000.
In 2003, Leo Varadkar graduated from the school of medicine, following which he worked for several years as a junior doctor in ‘St. James's Hospital’ and ‘Connolly Hospital.’ He qualified as a general practitioner in 2010.
Meanwhile, he remained politically active throughout this period, and was elected to the ‘Dáil Éireann’ (the Assembly of Ireland) at the 2007 general election. He also served as the party spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade and Employment from 2007 to 2010. He was re-elected to ‘Dáil Éireann’ in 2011.
In 2011, ‘Fine Gael’ formed a coalition government with the ‘Labour Party,’ following which Leo Varadkar was appointed minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport on 9 March 2011. This came across as a surprise to many as Varadkar was never enthusiastic about sports.
In July 2014, the cabinet was reshuffled and Varadkar found himself replacing James Reilly as minister for Health. This move was expected as he is a qualified doctor.
In the 2016 Irish general elections, which was held in February, he was once again elected to the ‘Dáil Éireann.’ As health minister, he cut €12 million from the €35 million allocated to that year's budget for mental health care as he felt that the funding could be better utilized elsewhere.
In May 2016, the then-Taoiseach Enda Kenny appointed Varadkar as minister for Social Protection. His stature in the Irish political scenario continued to rise. On 2 June 2017, Varadkar was elected leader of ‘Fine Gael,’ succeeding the retiring Kenny. Simon Coveney, his main competitor in the election, was eventually made his deputy.
On 14 June 2017, he was nominated as Taoiseach by ‘Dáil Éireann’ in a 57–50 vote with 47 abstentions. This nomination was approved by the president of Ireland and thus Leo Varadkar became Ireland's first openly gay Taoiseach. The outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that his successor represented a “modest, diverse and inclusive Ireland.”
After assuming office as Taoiseach, Varadkar’s first announcement was to propose the legalization of abortion through referendum on abortion for 2018. He also planned to achieve a low carbon economy.
Varadkar’s government entered a state of crisis when his Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Frances Fitzgerald became involved in the Garda Whistleblower scandal. This put his government in a fix as the opposition threatened a no confidence motion in the parliament.
Subsequently, Fitzgerald resigned from her post and Varadkar’s former rival Simon Coveney replaced her.
As far as the Brexit talks were concerned, he received assurances from the UK that there would be no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. With these negotiations, Varadkar’s approval rating as a Taoiseach improved to 41% according to a poll conducted by ‘Irish Times,’ highest in almost 10 years.
In 2018, he passed the referendum on abortion with a 2:1 majority. Subsequently, his poll approval rating reached 60%, a ten-year high for any prime minister. In 2019, he stood firm on his stand in supporting the Irish backstop concerning the Northern Ireland border issue.
He also declared that he would refuse to officiate the EU–Mercosur free trade agreement as it could cause harm and deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. He further added that he would not change his decision unless Brazil commits to protect its environment.
As an openly gay minister, Leo Varadkar was a leading campaigner for the ‘Yes Vote’ in the Marriage Referendum prior to the passage of the thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution in May 2015. His popularity is believed to have played a crucial role in garnering the public support for legalizing same-sex marriages in Ireland. The Marriage Act 2015, which provides for same-sex marriage in Ireland, was signed into law in October 2015.
When Leo Varadkar was serving as the health minister, he was named 'Man of the Year' by ‘Irish Tatler’ in 2015. The award was presented to him by the chairwoman of Harmonia, Norah Casey.
In June 2019, he was named in the ‘Pride 50’ list by ‘Queerty’ online magazine on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall riots for “trailblazing individuals who actively ensure society remains moving towards equality, acceptance and dignity for all queer people.”
Leo Varadkar came out publicly on his 36th birthday on 18 January 2015 during an interview with ‘RTE Radio.’ His disclosure was met with mass approval and he was appreciated for his honesty and courage.
He is in a relationship with Matthew Barrett, a doctor at ‘Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.’
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