Economy

Leo Varadkar confirmed as Irish prime minister

Leo Varadkar confirmed as Irish prime minister

In Wednesday's vote, Varadkar was elected by 57 to 50 votes, with 47 abstentions.

Paying tribute to Mr Kenny, Mr Varadkar said: "I have no doubt, only for him, this country as we know it would not be here today. The government I lead will be one of the new European centre as we seek to build a Republic of opportunity, that is a Republic in which every citizen gets a fair go and in which every part of the country stands to share in our prosperity".

38-year old Leo Varadkar was formally elected Taoiseach - Prime Minister of Ireland- at a confirmation ceremony in the Dail in Dublin after he won the Fine Gael party leadership earlier this month.

"The new Taoiseach enters into office when our country is experiencing some of its greatest challenges since the formation of the state".

Mr Varadkar has appointed his leadership rival Simon Coveney as deputy leader of Fine Gael.

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While global attention on Varadkar has been largely positive, in Ireland the former Minister for Social Protection received a more critical reception during the Fine Gael election, in part for a campaign he oversaw against welfare cheats during his time at the Department of Social Protection and for comments made during the election campaign in which he suggested he would represent people who get up early in the morning.

As it happened, it was ten years to the day that Varadkar, a Dubliner with a father from India and mother from Waterford, first took his seat in the Dáil. "I think that is too restrictive", he said.

Varadkar, a doctor educated at Trinity College Dublin, entered Irish politics in 2004, when he got nearly 5,000 votes in a local government election in the Dublin West constituency.

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.

It remains to be seen if his partner, doctor Matthew Barrett, will serve a public role.

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In a brief and modest valedictory speech, he said he accepted he had made mistakes but that he always had people's best interests at heart.

Not only campaigning for same-sex marriage, he has also worked in liberalising abortion laws.

He will face immediate challenges due to Britain's exit from the European Union, a political crisis in Northern Ireland and a housing crisis at home.

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