Indian-origin gay minister, front-runner to be Irish PM
Following Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kerry's decision to step down from office after six years at the helm, it is time for the country to have a new leader.
And of all the candidates that are seen as likely to succeed him, the name of Leo Varadkar is being touted as the front-runner in the elections expected to be held in early June.
Varadkar, 38, was born in Dublin, but is of Indian-origin and is currently the Irish welfare minister. He is also the first openly gay minister of the country.
He is the son of a Mumbai-born doctor, Ashok Varadkar and his wife Miriam who is a nurse, who he met while he was working with the National Health Service in England in the 1960s.
The minister is also a doctor like his father and was practising until his decision to join politics and being elected in 2007. He made news after he came out as a gay in 2015. According to reports, the minster's announcement was initially met with shock by his father, but according to him his father who was initially in shock became very supportive of him later.
As for the latest contest for the post which is to be decided on June 2, Varadkar is to face competition from Simon Coveney, his colleague in the ruling Fine Gael party.
Kenny stepped down last week as the leader, and as per reports, Varadkar enjoys much support in the party and among other ministers, which makes him the frontrunner to replace him.
Talking about Kenny after he resigned, Varadkar was quoted as having said he had "given hope to a battered and bruised Ireland in 2011...His dedication and determination gave Fine Gael a landslide in that year's general election."
He added, "But more importantly, he brought this country back from the brink of economic collapse, and offered political stability when countries across Europe were staring into the abyss."
And while talking about his prospects of replacing him, he is reported to have told a leading news network,"I m not counting my chickens. I'm really humbled at the level of support I have received from my colleagues and I am really looking forward to the hustings and the debates."
Varadkar had come out as gay following the country becoming the first in the world to have legalised same-sex marriage through popular vote.
In his coming-out speech that he gave to a radio, he is reported to have said, "It is not something that defines me. I am not a half- Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It is just part of who I am, it does not define me, it is the part of my character I suppose."