Leo Varadkar formally elected as Irish Prime Minister

Leo Varadkar has been formally elected as Ireland’s Prime Minister, the country’s youngest and first gay leader.

The 38-year-old son of an immigrant Indian doctor won 57 votes in the Irish parliament against 50 for his nomination as PM. Some 45 parliamentarians abstained.

Accepting his elevation to the most powerful office in the country, the Fine Gael leader said: “I’ve been elected to lead but I promise to serve.”

Mr Varadkar was nominated in parliament by departing PM Enda Kenny, who told the chamber: “As the country’s youngest holder of this office, he speaks for a new generation of Irish women and Irish men.

“He represents a modern, diverse and inclusive Ireland and speaks for them like no other.”

His parents Ashok and Miriam – and his partner Matt – were among the guests in the Dail’s distinguished visitors’ gallery for his election.

Paying tribute to Mr Kenny, Mr Varadkar said: “I have no doubt, only for him, this country as we know it would not be here today.

“On a personal note, I would like to add, were it not for Enda Kenny I have no doubt I would not be standing here in this seat today.”

Ireland’s 13th Taoiseach was elected to office exactly 10 years to the day since he first took his seat in parliament as a TD for Dublin West.

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Mr Varadkar succeeds Enda Kenny as Irish PM

One of his first official contacts as leader will be with Prime Minister Theresa May, in order to pass on the Irish people’s sympathies following the deadly London tower block fire.

“The United Kingdom has been through some dreadful and terrible tragedies in the past few weeks, and to them, on behalf of this House, we offer our sympathies, solidarity and support,” he said.

Mr Varadkar also vowed a “genuine willingness” to work together with all parties “on matters relating to Northern Ireland and matters outside the State”.

“We all have responsibilities,” he said.

“Our responsibility as a government is as co-guarantor of the (Good Friday) Agreement and of course the responsibility of all parties in Northern Ireland, after two elections, is to form an administration.”

Mr Varadkar will meet the leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein in Dublin on Friday.

“Leadership should never be about just one person,” he said.

“Leadership is not just about setting a course for the future, it is also about listening. In the months ahead, I will seek to do exactly that.”

One of the first to congratulate Mr Varadkar was European Council Donald Tusk, who said the EU was aware of the “challenge” Ireland faces with regards to Brexit, adding “flexible and imaginative solutions will be needed”.


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