Leo Varadkar continues to show leaderships despite uncertain outlook
In a rare public broadcast, on the symbolic day of St Patrick’s Day, Leo Varadkar – the Taoiseach of Ireland – continued to show leadership for his country.
It was a down-beat outlook presented by Varadkar, but he reminded people across Ireland that “when things were at their worst we were at our best. We cannot stop the virus but we can stop it in its tracks and push it back.”
It was a speech that has generally been well-received and seen as striking the right tone and balance – emphasising the seriousness of the situation, but also outlining how the country needs to come together.
Adding extra complication to the situation in Ireland is the results of the recent general election – a vote that effectively removed Varadkar and his party from power.
Varadkar is acting Taoiseach until a new government is formed. However, forming a new government was proving difficult even before the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic hit. No party has a clear majority, and forming a workable coalition has so far proved impossible.
The reality is that – for the short-term at least – Varadkar and his party must continue in government in order to ensure a consistent and coordinated response to the rapidly evolving Covid-19 impacts. Politically, the Government will need to keep Opposition parties informed and consulted throughout the coming months. It’s a bipartisan approach rarely seen in western politics.
Who is Leo Varadkar?
Early life and career
Born in Dublin in 1979, Leo Varadkar’s mother was a nurse. His father was a doctor who had moved to Dublin from Mumbai, and the family retained strong connections with India.
Studying medicine at Trinity College in Dublin, Varadkar was active in student politics, taking official roles in the European People’s Party.
Following graduation, Varadkar worked as General Practitioner.
Varadkar was elected to the lower house of the Irish parliament in 2007. He was immediately appointed to the front-bench of the government, and subsequently held a number of portfolios and ministerial responsibilities.
In 2017, Varadkar was elected as the head of the political party Fine Gael, and was able to secure enough support in the parliament to be appointed Taoiseach.
Following defeat in the 2020 election, Varadkar resigned as Taoiseach but continues as caretaker until a new government has been formed.
In early 2015, during a media interview, Varadkar spoke publicly for the first time about being gay. Later that year, Ireland held a referendum on the question of marriage equality – Varadkar was one of the prominent advocates for marriage equality. Varadkar’s partner is Matthew Barrett.