Ireland is all set to welcome its youngest prime minister. It is also the first time Ireland will have a prime minister of Indian origin.
Leo Varadkar, a gay son of an Indian immigrant is now all but certain to become the next prime minister of Ireland. The Fine Gael party chose Leo Varadkar to be its leader, on Friday. This also means he will head the center-right governing coalition. He is the first openly gay taoiseach (a term used in Ireland for it’s prime minister). He succeeds Enda Kenny, who is stepping down.
The new Fine Gael leader will have to be endorsed by the independent members of the minority coalition government before he becomes the Taoiseach. Mr Varadkar beat his rival, Housing Minister Simon Coveney, with 60% of the votes to lead Fine Gael – the biggest party in the coalition government. “If my election shows anything it’s that prejudice has no hold in this Republic,” he said.
Born on 18 January 1979 in Dublin, Varadkar is the only son of Mumbai-born Ashok and Irish nurse Miriam Varadkar. He has two sisters Sophie and Sonia. Varadkar studied in the St Francis Xavier National School, Blanchardstown. His secondary-level education took place in Palmerstown at The King’s Hospital. During his secondary schooling he joined Fine Gael.
He briefly studied law at Trinity College, Dublin (TCD)and later on switched to medicine. As an active member of Young Fine Gael, he also served as vice-president of the Youth of the European People’s Party. He graduated from the school of medicine in 2003 and spent several years working as a junior doctor in St. James’s Hospital and Connolly Hospital.
In 2014, he became Ireland’s minister for health and, after Fine Gael suffered losses in last year’s general election, he entered a minority coalition as minister for social protection.
In the 2015 interview with RTE radio, on his birthday, Varadkar said, “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.” This made him the first openly gay cabinet member in Ireland.
Ireland allowed gay marriage by a popular vote in 2015 but still has Europe’s toughest laws against abortion and Varadkar has campaigned for liberalising them.
Varadkar is in a relationship with Matthew Barrett, also a doctor.