Micheál Martin, Prime Minister of Ireland (since Jun 27, 2020)
Micheál Martin (born 1 August 1960) is an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who has served as Taoiseach since June 2020 and as Leader of Fianna Fáil since January 2011. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South-Central since 1989. He previously served as Leader of the Opposition from 2011 to 2020, Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2008 to 2011, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment from 2004 to 2008, Minister for Health and Children from 2000 to 2004, Minister for Education and Science from 1997 to 2000.
Born in Cork, Martin initially worked as a teacher before entering politics. He was elected to Cork City Council in 1985, and served as Lord Mayor of Cork from 1992 to 1993. In 1989, he was first elected to Dáil Éireann for Cork South-Central, a seat he has represented ever since. After the victory of Fianna Fáil at the 1997 election, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern appointed Martin to the Cabinet. In 2004, during his time as Health Minister, Martin was notable for introducing a ban on tobacco smoking in all Irish workplaces, making Ireland the first country in the world to introduce a full workplace smoking ban. In the same year, Martin established the Health Service Executive. In 2009, Martin became the first Irish Foreign Minister to travel to Latin America, during which time he also made the first official visit to Cuba by any Irish minister. Martin also visited Khartoum during his time as Foreign Minister following the kidnapping of Sharon Commins and Hilda Kawuki.
In January 2011, Martin resigned as Foreign Minister in protest at the leadership of Brian Cowen. Following Cowen’s own resignation as Leader of Fianna Fáil, Martin was quickly elected to replace him. Just weeks later, at the 2011 general election, Martin led Fianna Fáil to the worst result in its 85-year history, with a loss of 57 seats and a popular vote of just 17.4%. He nevertheless remained in the leadership, becoming Leader of the Opposition, with most party members choosing to blame Cowen rather than Martin for the result. At the 2016 general election, Fianna Fáil’s performance improved significantly, more than doubling their representation in the Dáil. Martin continued as Leader of the Opposition and led his party through the 2020 general election, which led to Fianna Fáil becoming the largest party in the Dáil by just one seat.
After lengthy negotiations, Martin was appointed Taoiseach on 27 June 2020, leading a grand coalition with longtime rival party Fine Gael, marking the first time these two parties had governed together, along with the Green Party. Under the terms of the coalition agreement, Martin’s predecessor, Leo Varadkar, became Tánaiste, and is scheduled to swap roles with Martin in December 2022.
Martin met Mary O’Shea at university; they later married in 1990 and had a total of five children. Their son, Ruairí, died at five weeks old in 2000 from sudden infant death syndrome. Their seven-year-old daughter, Léana, died in October 2010 shortly before her eighth birthday at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital after suffering from a heart condition. His three other children are Cillian, Aoibhe, and Micheál Aodh Martin who is a Gaelic football goalkeeper.
Leo Varadkar, Former 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.