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Indian-origin Leo Varadkar is new Prime Minister of Ireland

Indian-origin Leo Varadkar has returned for a second term as Ireland’s Prime Minister as part of a job-sharing deal made by the country’s centrist coalition government. His appointment was confirmed when he received the seal of office from President Michael D. Higgins, Ireland’s head of state.

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About The Time-line:

This is the second time that Varadkar has been elected as Irish prime minister. He first became the Irish prime minister in June 2017. In June 2020, the Fine Gael party led by Varadkar formed a coalition government with Fianna Fail and Green Party, in which he served as deputy prime minister and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

According to an agreement reached by the three parties in setting up a coalition government, Fianna Fail party leader Micheal Martin will first serve as Irish prime minister until December 2022 and Fine Gael party leader Varadkar will replace Martin to be the new prime minister until the five-year term of the current government comes to an end.

About Leo Varadkar:

  • Varadkar’s rise to the top of Irish politics was remarkable in a country dominated by a strict, conservative Catholic morality well into the latter half of the last century. At 38, he became the country’s youngest Taoiseach as well as its first openly gay head of government and first of Indian heritage.
  • Varadkar was born in Dublin to an Irish mother who worked as a nurse and an Indian immigrant father, who was a qualified doctor.
  • At the age of seven, a precocious Varadkar is reported to have told his mother’s friends that he wanted to be the minister for health. After gaining a medical degree from Trinity College Dublin, he went into general practice but stayed involved in politics, and in 2007 secured election for Fine Gael in Dublin West. In 2015, before Ireland’s referendum legalising same-sex marriage, Varadkar came out publicly as gay.

Significance Of His Previous Govt:

Varadkar’s tenure as Taoiseach was overshadowed by Brexit and the pandemic. He was widely judged as an effective communicator leading the country into its first lockdown — one of the longest and most stringent imposed in Europe. He re-registered as a doctor, returning to work once a week while continuing to lead the country.

On Brexit, Varadkar was credited in 2019 with former UK prime minister Boris Johnson for breaking the deadlock on Northern Ireland. But a resulting deal — which effectively keeps the UK-run province within the European single market and customs union — remains a point of tension between Brussels and London.

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