Varadkar to become Taoiseach amid minimal Cabinet changes

Sinn Féin will not nominate Mary Lou McDonald for Taoiseach

Leo Varadkar will be elected Taoiseach for the second time today, as the three-party Coalition Government moves into its second and final phase, accompanied by what is expected to be a minimal reshuffling of Cabinet positions.

The outgoing Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is expected to take the foreign affairs portfolio, clearing the way for Simon Coveney to become Minister for Enterprise, replacing Mr Varadkar.

Other portfolios were being discussed by the party leaders at a meeting last night, but senior party sources on all sides suggested that changes would be minimal.

It is likely the position of Government Chief Whip will also rotate between the parties, with Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughton taking over from Fianna Fail’s Jack Chambers.


The new attorney general is expected to be Rossa Fanning SC, who is one of the most successful barristers in the country, with a large commercial law and mixed practice.

In his first speech as the new Taoiseach in the Dáil today, the Fine Gael leader Mr Varadkar will highlight housing and the economy as two key areas of focus for the Government.

He will also commit to continuing a spirit of “togetherness” for the second term of this Government.

He will commit that as Taoiseach his mission will be to “build on the achievement of 100 years ago, and work on what needs to be done for this generation and the next. Providing hope and housing, economic opportunity and a fair start for all.”

Speaking in Brussels yesterday on his last full day as Taoiseach, Mr Martin said the changeover within the Coalition is “an important moment” in Ireland’s democracy, which he described as “evolving in a mature way”.

He said he wants the Government to continue to its full term and that his focus after the transition is on housing, climate change and health reform as well as “my passion in terms of education and the opportunity that we continue to drive forward in ensuring no child is left behind.”

Saturday’s proceedings will begin with Mr Martin going to Áras an Uachtaráin at 9.30am to hand in his resignation to President Michael D Higgins, in effect dissolving the Government. He will then go to Leinster House to inform the Dáil of his resignation, after which Mr Varadkar will be nominated.

Once Mr Varadkar is confirmed by the Coalition’s majority he will be driven to the Áras to receive his seal of office.

There is expected to be a Dáil vote on the new Cabinet at around 5pm before the new ministers go to Áras an Uacharáin for formal appointment, after which the new Cabinet will hold its first meeting there.

Sinn Féin has decided not to nominate party leader Mary Lou McDonald for the position of Taoiseach.

A spokesman said: “Nothing will change until we have a change of government.

“We need a general election, not a rotation in the office of Taoiseach from Fianna Fáil to Fine Gael.”

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times