Leo Varadkar (18 January 1979) is Ireland's youngest, first partly Indian-descended and first gay taoiseach or prime minister, which post he has held since 14 June 2017. On that day, Leo became the leader of his centre-right party Fine Gael.
Leo's mother, a farmer's daughter from Dungarvan, is a nurse. When she was around 18 she went to get trained as a nurse in England, where she met Leo's father, who's from India, just south of Mumbai. He arrived in England in the 70s "with just fifty pounds in his pocket and a shirt and nothing else". He was a doctor. People sometimes ask Leo where he's from originally and if he ever goes back to India, which he doesn't.
Leo came out as gay during an interview on his 36th birthday with RTÉ radio. He said: "I am a gay man, it's not a secret, but not something that everyone would necessarily know, but it isn't something I've spoken about publicly before." Being gay is not something that defines him, just like being half Indian or a doctor does not define him, he says.
On 18 January 2015, Leo said he was not in a relationship. When asked if he would like to be, he said: "Yeah, I suppose so."
Leo is not a Donald Trump fan. On 27 June 2017, Donald called him to congratulate him on being elected Taoiseach. Donald was left waiting approximately a minute and a half before Leo finally got on the phone.
Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny had extended an invitation to Donald to visit Ireland. Although Leo had said "'wouldn't be keen' on inviting Donald Trump to visit Ireland", on 21 June 2017 he said he wouldn't rescind the former Taoiseach's invitation, so as not to cause a "diplomatic incident". He added:
- I assure the deputy that in any dealings I have with the American Government and in the interactions and engagement I have with the chargé d’affaires who is here and who is acting US ambassador to Ireland, I will approach them based on the long-standing friendship that exists between our countries and the familial, cultural and economic links but I will never shirk from raising issues such as climate change.
- I totally reject and oppose President Trump’s attempt to withdraw the US from the commitments made in Paris. I will also raise our concerns regarding human rights and LGBT rights and other issues in America that very much oppose the values of the new European centre that I talk about.
In early 2016, Leo "expressed concern at the establishment of an Irish branch of anti-Islamic group Pegida." Notwithstanding, "[h]e also condemned the violence perpetrated on the group" in Dublin on 6 February 2017. A group had attacked members of Pegida on O’Connell Street. Pegida Ireland's chairman Peter O"Loughlin and five friends of his were travelling on the Luas, when suddenly they were set upon by a group of 20 odd men, who punched and kicked them amid "an elderly woman, children and a baby." After the attack, the attackers chanted "Antifa!" Peter O"Loughlin, who was struck in the head with a blunt object, had to be hospitalised. Leo, who at the time was Minister of Health, said:
- I think it would be a very dark time for our politics if we saw extremism coming on the Right. We have extremism coming in on the Left already and we’ve seen what that means in terms of extreme policies and violence directed towards politicians and others.
- I also believe in free speech and I think we need to allow people to say things that maybe we don’t like to hear. That’s important in a democracy and I don’t think that violence is the answer to people whom you don’t agree with.
- "Irish Minister for Health Leo Varadkar says he is gay". bbc.com. 18 January 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- Lindsay Maizland (14 June 2017). "Leo Varadkar is Ireland’s new prime minister. He’s also openly gay and an immigrant’s son.". vox.com. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Leo Varadkar becomes Republic of Ireland's taoiseach". bbc.com. 14 June 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Minister Leo Varadkar". 2:40. rte.ie. "Sunday with Miriam". 18 January 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Minister Leo Varadkar". 3:09. rte.ie. "Sunday with Miriam". 18 January 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Minister Leo Varadkar". 7:30. rte.ie. "Sunday with Miriam". 18 January 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Minister Leo Varadkar". 13:15. rte.ie. "Sunday with Miriam". 18 January 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Minister Leo Varadkar". 13:45. rte.ie. "Sunday with Miriam". 18 January 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Minister Leo Varadkar". 30:09. rte.ie. "Sunday with Miriam". 18 January 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Varadkar says he will not rescind Donald Trump's invitation to visit Ireland". thejournal.ie. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "I Am Immigrant RTÉ2 | Assault On The Luas | RTÉ2". YouTube. RTÉ2. Published 30 March 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- Barry Roche (8 February 2016). "Varadkar concerned by rise of anti-Islamic group Pegida". irishtimes.com. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- Dan Griffin (7 February 2016). "RTÉ to file complaint after cameraman is injured in protest". irishtimes.com. Retrieved 1 July 2017.