Published: Sat, June 10, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Ireland's first openly gay minister chosen to be next PM

Varadkar succeeds Enda Kenny, who was party leader for 15 years and who will stand down as prime minister when parliament is expected to ratify Varadkar.

Leo Varadkar, Ireland's first openly gay cabinet minister and the son of an immigrant doctor, has been the clear favourite to replace Mr Kenny.

Mr Varadkar, who came out as gay in the run up to the 2015 same-sex marriage referendum, is now in charge of the welfare system.

Members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party will vote this morning in the election to choose Enda Kenny's successor as party leader.

Leo Varadkar is set to be elected the new leader of Fine Gael - despite a majority of the party's ordinary members appearing to vote against him.

Leo Varadkar made his foray into Irish politics when he was 22 and was elected to the parliament when he was 27.

"We welcome Ireland's first gay presumptive taoiseach ... here's to the next generation!"

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"If my election shows anything it's that prejudice has no hold in this Republic", he said.

Varadkar said his father traveled 5000 miles to reach Ireland, but never imagined that his son would grow up to lead the nation.

Fine Gael is a center-right Christian Democratic party. I am not a half- Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter.

Varadkar faces many challenges as prime minister, including steering an economy still recovering from the 2008 global financial crisis.

Indian native Leo Varadkar, that is indeed his name not an Anglicised abbreviation, could well create history by becoming one of the youngest prime ministers in the world at the age of 38.

However, Mr Varadkar has come under criticism for his comments on progressive issues and workers rights.

"It is not something that defines me". It's just part of who I am'. Previous out European heads of government include Elio di Rupo, a gay man who was Belgium's prime minister from 2011 to 2014, and Johnanna Sigurdardottir, a lesbian who was Iceland's prime minister from 2009 to 2013.

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