Leo Varadkar steps down as Fine Gael Party Leader and Taoiseach

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Fine Gael Party Leader and Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar has presented his resignation today March 20th at 12pm.

Fine Gael Party Leader and Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar has presented his resignation today March 20th at noon.

The announcement comes shortly after his return from Washington D.C where he attended the traditional White House St. Patrick’s Day celebration with United States President Joe Biden. 

The customary trip was particularly contentious this year given the historically pro-Palestinian stance of Ireland as a union and President Biden’s vocal support of Israel.  

During his allocution, Varadkar said: “The Irish people are deeply troubled by the catastrophe that is unfolding before our eyes in Gaza ''. He continued to say that this empathy comes from the fact that “[we] see our history in their eyes. A story of displacement, of dispossession, a national identity questioned and denied, forced emigration, discrimination and now hunger”. He continued to say: “We also see Israel’s history reflected in our eyes [...] a diaspora who’s the heart never left home no matter how many generations passed”. Several public figures have called out the analogy between Zionism and Irish heritage including Irish author Sally Rooney in an Irish Times Op-Ed saying “Our government is basking in the moral glow of condemning the bombers while preserving a cozy relationship with those supplying the bombs”. 

Speaking at Leinster House, he said that being Taoiseach has been the most fulfilling time of his life but that “after seven years in office, [he] is no longer the best person for that job”. 

The youngest Taoiseach the country has ever seen, Leo Varadkar’s sudden departure does not appear to be directly correlated to a single event. Rather it appears as though, the initial air of innovation and renewal he sought to bring to the country, politically, economically, and socially may have gotten thin. Indeed, amidst the ongoing crisis in Gaza, the steady rise of the far-right across the country which reached its peak during the Dublin riots last November, and the failure of Care and Family referenda on March 8th, the Fine Gael wunderkind has garnered criticism from political opponents and allies alike. 

While his resignation has not called for an immediate election, there will now be calls to consider the next leader of Fine Gael. He has assured he will remain as Taoiseach until a new one is elected after Easter recess. 

People Before Profit TD for Dún Laoghaire Richard Boyd-Barrett has supported calls to democratically elect the next Taoiseach and called for a general election following Leo Varadkar’s decision to step down.