Leo Varadkar on course to become first gay Irish PM

Leo Varadkar is on course to become the first openly-gay Prime Minister of Ireland.

The race is underway to replace Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, after he announced his departure earlier this year.

Kenny, 66, has led the centre-right Fine Gael party for 15 years and been prime minister since 2011.

Since then, his Fine Gael-led coalition governments have faced years of political turbulence and mass protests against austerity.

However, the race to replace Kenny is certainly underway ahead of the upcoming Fine Gael leader election.

An Electoral College will elect a new leader on Friday 2 June.

The college will consist of members of the parliamentary party, local councillors, and regular party members.

Varadkar, who is gay and the son of an Indian immigrant, is the favourite to become the new leader and PM.

The 38-year-old has managed to maintain a strong lead over his only remaining rival, Simon Coveney, up to now.

Coveney has served as the minister for housing, planning, community and local government since May 2016.

Athough some supporters believe he should, Mr Coveney told The Irish Times that he would not withdraw from the contest.

If elected, Mr Varadkar, currently social protection minister, would be only the fourth openly-gay head of government in recent history.

The TD (Teachta Dála) for Dublin West only came out as gay in 2015, ahead of Ireland’s equal marriage referendum.

Mr Varadkar played a key role as the country went to the polls to vote on same-sex marriage.

He 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.

“I’m really humbled at the level of support I have received, but I’m not counting my chickens.

“I’m really looking forward to the hustings and the debates”.

Currently there is only one other openly gay world leader in office – Luxembourg’s PM Xavier Bettel.


Photo Credit: epp group

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