Ireland's Leo Varadkar takes office as new prime minister

Business as usual’ for Taoiseach Enda Kenny as he prepares to hand over reins

Business as usual’ for Taoiseach Enda Kenny as he prepares to hand over reins

The veteran Fine Gael politician, who is the country's longest serving taoiseach, delivered a relatively short valedictory address to the Dail parliament.

Taoiseach Varadkar is expected to announce his new Cabinet this evening after President Michael D Higgins makes his new role official.

"The country as we know it would not be here today if it was not for Enda Kenny", Varadkar said following the vote.

"As the country's youngest holder of this office, he speaks for a new generation of Irish women and Irish men", he said.

After negotiations between Fianna Fáil, the Independent Alliance and various independent TDs over the last few days, Varadkar secured the necessary support in the Dáil today to be elected taoiseach.

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After he was chosen as leader of his party, Varadkar said his top priorities as Taoiseach would be to reach an agreement on Brexit, and to hold a referendum on abortion next year.

The fact that local media in Ireland have barely mentioned Varadkar's identity, choosing to focus on his political qualifications instead, also shows how far Ireland has come in becoming more socially liberal.

Ireland's newly elected prime minister, Leo Varadkar, shakes hands with members of a crowd gathered outside Leinster House, the seat of Irish Parliament in Dublin.

Fine Gael elected Varadkar, a trained doctor, as its leader in early June.

In a coming-out speech he gave in a radio interview, he had said, "It's not something that defines me". Varadkar's parents immigrated to Ireland from India.

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"For my own part I am the first to acknowledge I have not got everything right".

Many ministers will be also mindful that they will be changing departments after Leo Varadkar's election as the 14th head of government tomorrow.

Mr Varadkar was joined on his special day by his delighted family and partner Matthew Barrett. Someone who is unconditionally on my side, which is always great. After that, he worked as Fine Gael's minister for transport, tourism, and sport, and then as health minister.

Mr Kenny, from Castlebar, Co Mayo, took over as Fine Gael leader in 2002 when the party suffered near annihilation at the polls.

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