Monday, May 20, 2024

Leo Varadkar has ‘no regrets’ as he officially resigns as Irish taoiseach

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Leo Varadkar has said he has “no regrets” about standing down, as he officially resigned as Ireland’s taoiseach.

The Dublin politician, who has been the country’s prime minister for four years, said he was looking forward to a “different chapter”.

Varadkar arrived at Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence of the Irish president, Michael D Higgins, on Monday evening.

Higgins is understood to have greeted Varadkar in the president’s study, where a letter of resignation was handed to the secretary general of the Irish president. After taking tea with Higgins and his wife, Sabina, Varadkar left 45 minutes later.

The 45-year-old will remain taoiseach in a caretaker capacity until a new premier is voted in by Irish parliamentarians.

He shocked the country when he announced three weeks ago that he was resigning as Fine Gael leader immediately, and would stand down as taoiseach once his successor had been appointed.

The new Fine Gael leader, Simon Harris, 37, is expected to be appointed Ireland’s next taoiseach, and the youngest in its history, on Tuesday. He is expected to reshuffle the Fine Gael ministerial team after his appointment.

Varadkar, who is still a Dublin West TD, has said he will decide whether he will contest the next general election over the summer. In an interview with RTÉ News recorded before he officially resigned, he said he had no regrets about his decision.

“Today feels pretty good,” he said. “It was a difficult decision to make that I oscillated on on a few occasions.

“It was a difficult decision to make and difficult to go through with on the day but certainly since then I’ve had no regrets and am looking forward to a different chapter in my life.”

He said of becoming taoiseach: “It’s almost impossible to prepare for. You pretty much become a different person the day you become taoiseach and the hopes and fears of 5.3 million people are on your shoulders.

“So what I’ve said to minister Harris, to Simon, is to be himself, to trust himself. Take advice, absolutely, take advice very widely, but trust your gut instincts and your own intuition.”

His official resignation came hours after he attended the North South Ministerial Council in County Armagh, in what was his last major political engagement. Varadkar said it was an honour to end his tenure as taoiseach by attending the council.

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