News (World)

Ireland’s gay prime minister resigns for “personal and political, but mainly political” reasons

Leo Varadkar announced his resignation in Dublin on Wednesday.
Leo Varadkar announced his resignation in Dublin on Wednesday. Photo: Screenshot / RTÉ News

On the heels of a recent St. Patrick’s Day visit to the U.S., Ireland’s out Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced that he is stepping down.

Varadkar told reporters in Dublin Wednesday that he was resigning as leader of Ireland’s center-right Fine Gael party, effective immediately, and would resign as Taoiseach — the Irish word for Prime Minister — “as soon as my successor is able to take up that office.”

Varadkar, Ireland’s first openly gay prime minister, said he was resigning for “personal and political, but mainly political” reasons. He added that after “careful consideration and some soul-searching,” he believes that a new prime minister would be “better-placed than me” to help the country’s current government get re-elected and help his party gain seats in the next Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish legislature.

“After seven years in office, I am no longer the best person for that job,” Varadkar said.

Varadkar trained as a doctor before being elected to Dáil Éireann in 2007. He came out in 2015 when he was Ireland’s health minister, after which he campaigned in favor of same-sex marriage in Ireland, which was legalized via national referendum that same year.

In 2017, he became the leader of the Fine Gael party and was elected to the Taoiseach, becoming the youngest person ever to hold the office, as well as the country’s first openly gay and first biracial prime minister. He served until 2020, but resumed the role in December 2022 after Fine Gael formed a coalition government with rival party Fianna Fáil. Under Varadkar’s leadership, Ireland also legalized abortion in 2018.

“I am proud that we have made the country a more equal and more modern place when it comes to the rights of children, the LGBT community, equality for women and their bodily autonomy,” he said Wednesday, describing his time in public office as “the most fulfilling time of my life.”

But as NPR noted, Varadkar and his party have seen recent setbacks. Amid cost of living and housing crises in Ireland, Varadkar’s coalition government is trailing in polls ahead of upcoming elections. Varadkar, who has been critical of Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas, faced criticism for meeting with President Joe Biden during his recent trip to the U.S. over Biden’s continued support of the Israeli government. Earlier this month, voters rejected two amendments supported by Varadkar that would have removed sexist language from the Irish constitution.

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