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20th Mar 2024

‘I am no longer the best person for that job’ — Leo Varadkar steps down as Taoiseach and Fine Gael party leader

Jody Coffey

Leo Varadkar

Varadkar will remain a TD for Dublin West and will stay on as Taoiseach until a successor has been appointed

Leo Varadkar has announced he is stepping down as Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader.

The news came today at a press conference outside Government buildings following this morning’s Cabinet meeting.

This comes after immense speculation about Varadkar’s future as the Taoiseach.

He has been Taoiseach since the reshuffle in December 2022 and previously acted as Taoiseach between June 2017 and June 2022.

Varadkar has been the leader of Fine Gael party since 2017.

“Most fulfilling time in my life”

Varadkar’s announcement was live streamed on RTE One this afternoon.

He described his time in politics are the most fulfilling time in his life, calling it an honour to lead Ireland from a budget deficit to a surplus, through the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit.

Varadkar added that one trait of leadership is knowing when it’s time to pass over duties to the next.

“That time is now. As soon as my successor is able to take up that office,” he said.

There is never a right time to resign”

Speaking on the decision, he explained that due to Budget 2024 negotiations ending, now was ‘as good as time as any’ to step away from his position as Taoiseach.

“I know this will come as a surprise to many people, and a disappointment for some, but i hope you will understand my decision.

“I know that others will, how shall I put it, cope with the news just fine.  That is the great thing about living in a democracy.

“There is never a right time to resign high office, however this is as good a time as any”

“After careful consideration and some soul-searching, I believe a new Taoiseach will be better-placed than me to achieve that – to renew and strengthen the top team, to refocus our message and policies, and to drive implementation.

“After seven years in office, I am no longer the best person for that job.’

The new Taoiseach will have two months of preparations for the local and European elections, and up to a year for the next general election.

Government parties have said that they do not expect today’s announcement to trigger a general election.

Varadkar went on to recommend a career in politics to anyone, despite it’s ‘challenges’.

“On a personal level, I have enjoyed being Taoiseach, Leader and a Cabinet member since March 2011.

“I have learned so much about so many things, met people who I would never have got to meet, been to places I would never have seen, both home and abroad.

“However, politicians are human beings. We have our limitations. We give it everything until we can’t anymore and then we have to move on.

“There will be speculation as to the ‘real reason’ for my decision”

Varadkar concluded his announcement by sharing that he has no “definite personal or political plans” and thanked his members of government, Constituents, colleagues, and the people of Ireland.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my Party, my coalition partners Micheál and Eamon, Constituents, colleagues and staff for their loyalty and their phenomenal work, and will also thank them in person in the near future

“Most of all, I’d like to finish by thanking the people of Ireland for giving me the opportunity to serve them. I promise I will keep working for Ireland and my community in any way I can in the future.”