Leo Varadkar quits: Who is next in line to take his place as Irish leader?

Simon HarrisSimon Harris
Simon Harris
​Attention now turns to who will replace Leo Varadkar as Irish leader after his resignation today.

Due to the maths of his three-party coalition government, the next leader of Fine Gael is set to become the next taoiseach.

In his resignation speech, Mr Varadkar said he has asked for a new leader to be elected ahead of the party's annual conference (Ard Fheis) on Saturday April 6.

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There are a number of potential candidates to replace the Fine Gael leader:

  • Simon Harris is the bookies' favourite.

The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation & Science is a TD for Wicklow.

Aged 37, if he was to take over from Mr Varadkar he would become the country's youngest ever taoiseach, taking that title from his predecessor who was 38.

He has not been shy about his ambition to lead Fine Gael.

He stepped in as Minister for Justice while Helen McEntee was on maternity leave, and also served as Minister for Health.

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Justice minister Helen McEntee has faced a difficult six months after criticism of her handling of the rioting in Dublin last November, sparked by an immigrant who stabbed a group of children.

She survived a Sinn Fein motion of no confidence late last year over that disorder, and has faced criticism for her drive to expand the reach of “hate speech” law.

Simon Coveney lost the Fine Gael leadership contest to Mr Varadkar in 2017.

The Cork South-Central TD has since served as deputy leader of the party and is currently the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

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He has held several ministerial portfolios, most recently as Tanaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2020.

He is the bookies' second favourite to win.

Now aged 51, Mr Coveney was first elected to the Dail in 1998 as one of Fine Gael's youngest TDs.

Paschal Donohoe, the Minister for Public Expenditure, was first elected to the Dail in 2011.

There was speculation last year that he would take up the position as head of the International Monetary Fund.

However he ruled himself out of that role last week, giving him a clear running in the Fine Gael leadership contest.

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