This post was originally published on 17 June 2017.
Leo Varadkar, a 38-year-old Indian-origin doctor, has scripted history by becoming Ireland’s youngest prime minister, as he promised to build “a republic of opportunity”.
Varadkar, the country’s first Indian-origin premier, officially took over from Enda Kenny as Taoiseach, as the Irish prime ministerial title is known, after a parliamentary vote in Dublin confirmed him as the leader by 57 votes to 50, with 47 abstentions.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Leo Varadkar on becoming Ireland’s prime minister and said he looked forward to working with him to enhance relations between the two countries.
The former general physician, who is the son of an Irish nurse and a doctor from India, won the Fine Gael party leadership earlier this month. He has made his leadership rival Simon Coveney the deputy leader of the party.
Addressing the Dail (Irish parliament), after his election, Varadkar said, “I’ve been elected to lead but I promise to serve.”
“The government that I lead will not be one of left or right because those old divisions don’t comprehend the political challenges of today. The government I lead will be one of the new European centre as we seek to build a republic of opportunity,” Varadkar asserted.
He then travelled to the president’s residence, Aras an Uachtarain, where President Michael D Higgins gave him the seals of office to officially confirm his appointment.
Former Taoiseach Kenny nominated Varadkar to succeed him at the start of today’s Dail proceedings, saying that he would carry out the role with integrity and skill.
After winning the party leadership earlier this month, Varadkar had said, “If my election shows anything it’s that prejudice has no hold in this Republic.”
“When my father travelled 5,000 miles to build a new home in Ireland, I doubt he ever dreamed his son would grow up to be its leader,” he had said.
The Dublin-born son of Mumbai-born Ashok Varadkar and Irish mother Miriam, served as Ireland’s welfare minister and had emerged as the most popular choice since he announced his candidacy after Kenny stepped down as prime minister earlier this year.
Varadkar qualified as a doctor from the prestigious Trinity College, Dublin, and was first elected as a councillor at the age of 24 and took a seat in the Dail in 2007.
His family originates from Varad in Maharashta’s Sindhudurg district, and Leo Varadkar kept his Indian connect alive, completing an internship at the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai.