Leo Varadkar resignation sees Ireland's youngest Taoiseach exit role before age of 50

Ireland's youngest-ever Taoiseach once insisted he would not remain in politics beyond the age of 50.

Despite later admitting he regretted that pledge, Leo Varadkar's words rang true as he announced his resignation as Fine Gael leader, aged 45.

In a emotional statement on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Varadkar said he was stepping down effective immediately "for personal and political" reasons.

The move also signals an end to his second term as Taoiseach, a role which he plans to vacate once his successor is elected.

The son of an immigrant Indian doctor, Leo Varadkar was first elected Ireland's youngest and first gay Taoiseach at the age of 38.

A qualified doctor born and raised in Dublin, politics had always been an ambition of his from a very young age.

Leo Varadkar entered politics at the age of 27 in 2007 and became party leader 10 years later.

His first term as Taoiseach ran from 2017 to 2020, and he was re-appointed to the role in December 2022, succeeding Fianna Fáil leader Micháel Martin.

Leo Varadkar was previously Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) and the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Investment between June 2020 and December 2022 in the coalition government, and had previously served as Minister for Health in 2014.

Giving his resignation speech, Mr Varadkar said he believed it was as “good a time as any” to step down.

“I know this will come as a surprise to many people and a disappointment to some, and I hope at least you will understand my decision,” he said.

“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’s never a right time to resign high office, however, this is as good a time as any."

Looking ahead to the Republic of Ireland's next general election, which must be held by early spring next year, Leo Varadkar said he believes a new leader would be "better placed" to take Fine Gael forward.

“I believe this government can be re-elected and I believe my party, Fine Gael, can gain seats in the next poll,” he said.

“Most of all I believe the re-election of this three-party government would be the right thing for the future of our country.

“Continuing to take us forward, protecting all that has been achieved and building on it.

“But, after careful consideration and some soul searching, I believe that a new taoiseach and a new leader will be better placed than me to achieve that, to renew and strengthen the team, to focus our message and policies, to drive implementation.

“And, after seven years in office, I don’t feel I’m the best person for that job anymore.”

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