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Family affair for new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as he takes over reins of power

“I want you to know that my work as Taoiseach is driven by your example. I intend to honour your confidence in me”

Newly elected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar leaves Leinster House on his way to Aras an Uachtarain© PA

Leo Varadkar 's father Ashok Varadkar and mother Miriam Varadkar with his partner Matt Barrett at Leinster House© PA

Leo Varadkar's partner Matt Barrett at Leinster House© PA

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

It was a family affair for Leo Vardakar as he formally took over as Taoiseach for the second time after receiving the seal of office from President Michael D Higgins this afternoon.

Mr Varadkar’s parents, Miriam and Ashok, and his partner, Matthew Barrett, were among those who watched from the gallery in Leinster house as TDs voted 87 to 62 to support his appointment.

Mr Vardakar received a standing ovation from TDs on the Government benches when the outcome of the vote was announced.

In a planned handover of power at the top of the ruling three-party Government, the Fine Gael leader replaced Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin as Taoiseach.

His proud parents and Mr Barrett later joined him at the President’s residence when his appointment was formally confirmed.

Mr Vardakar said he accepted the nomination by the Dáil “with humility and resolve”.

“I am proud of the State that was created, under the most extreme of pressure, 100 years ago. Throughout difficult crises and challenges, our democracy endured, it survived, and it prospered,” Mr Varadkar said on his appointment.

“We won the ultimate freedom that ‘all nations desire and develop to,’ as Michael Collins said, and we owe a debt to men and women of all political parties and traditions.”

Leo Varadkar 's father Ashok Varadkar and mother Miriam Varadkar with his partner Matt Barrett at Leinster House© PA

He also paid tribute to the outgoing Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, commending him “on the leadership he has shown, for putting the country before politics, and for providing reassurance and hope during difficult times”.

“In 2020 the new Taoiseach was unable to have his wife and family with him in the Convention Centre as he received the greatest honour of his life. That, too, was leadership. I am glad they are here today,” he declared.

“During the pandemic we saw the best of each other, and it meant that the new coalition was born in a spirit of togetherness and hope. I intend for that spirit to continue as we implement, with our partners in the Green Party, the agreed Programme for Government.”

He also thanked his family, friends and staff, “for your work, the love and support you have shown me. When we enter public life, we choose this path. Our loved ones do not.

“I want you to know that my work as Taoiseach is driven by your example. I intend to honour your confidence in me,” he added.

“Also, I want to thank all of the Deputies who supported my nomination – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and Independents.

“A Cheann Comhairle, when I became Taoiseach in June 2017 so much of the focus was on my election and what it represented and symbolised. That was understandable at the time, but today I think we should focus on where we are as a country and what needs to be done to prepare for the next century of statehood.”

Leo Varadkar's partner Matt Barrett at Leinster House© PA

He also said he was “thinking of housing and how we have to go all out to turn the corner on homelessness and homeownership”.

“It’s about making home ownership a reality for the many again,” he added. “I am thinking of how we need to tame inflation and bring the cost of living under control, especially when it comes to the cost of energy, childcare, education, rent and healthcare.

“I am thinking about our climate and biodiversity, the challenges facing our planet. We need to set ourselves the ambition of becoming energy independent and develop new ideas to make it happen.

“I believe that we can harness our massive untapped, renewable natural resources – providing greater energy security, stable prices, more jobs, and regional development.

“I am thinking of the unprovoked war that has brought death and devastation to Ukraine. Today I reaffirm our commitment to stand with our fellow Europeans in this harsh winter and to help them in every way we can.”

Mr Varadkar also said he was thinking of the Defence Forces, “the men and women who put the safety of others above their own and in particular Private Sean Rooney.

“We offer our condolences to his fiancé, family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are also with Trooper Shane Carney.

“I am also thinking about the most vulnerable in our society, and especially children. We need to improve access to therapies, provide better special needs education, and do more for those who need it most. We also need to do more about child poverty and disadvantage.

“We know that poverty restricts a child’s opportunity, and casts a long shadow over their lives.

“The number of children in consistent poverty has fallen by 45,000 - we are making progress - but it still means too many children are missing out on everyday opportunities.”

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