Leo Varadkar, Prime Minister of Ireland (elected on Jun 14, 2017)
Leo Eric Varadkar (English pronunciation: /ˈliːoʊ vəˈrædkər/; born 18 January 1979) is an Irish Fine Gael politician who has served as Taoiseach, Minister for Defence and Leader of Fine Gael since June 2017. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) since 2007, currently for the Dublin West constituency. He previously served as Minister for Social Protection from 2016 to 2017, Minister for Health from 2014 to 2016 and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport from 2011 to 2014.
Following the retirement of Enda Kenny, he was elected as Leader of the Fine Gael Party on 2 June 2017. On 14 June, he was nominated as Taoiseach by Dáil Éireann and this nomination was approved by the President of Ireland.
During the 2015 same-sex marriage referendum he became the first openly gay Irish government minister and is the first minister of Indian heritage. Upon his election as taoiseach Varadkar, aged 38, became the youngest person to hold the office, as well as the first person from a minority ethnic background to do so. He is also Ireland’s first and the world’s fourth openly gay head of government in modern times (following Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Elio Di Rupo and Xavier Bettel).
Varadkar was born in Dublin and studied Medicine at Trinity College, Dublin. He spent several years as a junior doctor before qualifying as a general practitioner in 2010. In 2004 he was co-opted onto Fingal County Council and served as deputy mayor before his election to Dáil Éireann. He was promoted to the Front Bench by Enda Kenny as Spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, remaining in this position until a 2010 reshuffle when he became Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
During an interview on RTÉ Radio on 18 January 2015 (his 36th birthday), Varadkar spoke publicly for the first time about being gay: “it’s not something that defines me. I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am, it doesn’t define me, it is part of my character I suppose”. This made him the first openly gay cabinet member in Ireland. Varadkar was a prominent advocate of the same-sex marriage referendum.
His partner, Matthew Barrett, is a doctor at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.
Enda Kenny, Former Prime Minister of Ireland (re-elected on May 6, 2016)
Enda Kenny (born 24 April 1951) is an Irish politician, leader of Fine Gael since 2002, and Taoiseach since March 2011. He is also Ireland’s Minister for Defence since 6 May 2016. He was a two-term Vice-President of the European People’s Party and was Ireland’s Minister for Tourism and Trade from 1994 to 1997.
Kenny has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for Mayo since 1975, having succeeded his father Henry Kenny. He is the longest-serving TD currently in Dáil Éireann, which makes him the incumbent Father of the Dáil.
Kenny led Fine Gael ahead of the 2011 general election. He subsequently brokered an agreement with the Labour Party and formed a coalition government on 9 March 2011. After two months of negotiations following the 2016 election, an agreement was reached for a Fine Gael-led minority government, and Kenny was re-elected as Taoiseach on 6 May 2016. He is the first Taoiseach from Fine Gael since John Bruton from 1994 to 1997, the first Fine Gael leader to win government in an election since Garret FitzGerald in 1982, and the first Fine Gael Taoiseach to maintain his office after a general election.
Enda Kenny was born in 1952 in Derrywash, Islandeady, near Castlebar, County Mayo, the third child of five of Mary Eithne (McGinley) and Henry Francis Kenny. He was educated locally at St Patrick’s National School, Cornanool and at St Gerald’s College, Castlebar. He attended St Patrick’s College of Education, Dublin, qualifying as a national teacher and was an undergraduate student at University College Galway. He worked as a primary school teacher for four years.
Kenny has been married to Fionnuala O’Kelly since 1992. She has been described by the media as his “best asset” and his “secret weapon”. O’Kelly is first cousin to sitting Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly, former President of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The O’Kelly family originally come from the parish of Kilcummin near Killarney, County Kerry. The Kennys have three children, one daughter and two sons. The couple met in Leinster House where O’Kelly worked as a press officer for Fianna Fáil. She later worked with Raidió Teilifís Éireann.
Kenny has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and completed the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle. He is a keen supporter of his native Mayo Gaelic football team. He played Gaelic football for his local club, Islandeady, of which he is the current club president. His father, Henry Kenny, won an All-Ireland medal with the inter-county team in 1936. His grandfather was a lighthouse keeper.