Varadkar says ‘no one thing’ triggered resignation and that it is ‘time for somebody new’

Taoiseach tells reporters at summit of EU leaders in Brussels he has been doing the job long enough

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that there is “no one thing” that triggered his resignation on Wednesday but that he had been doing the job long enough and it was time for a change.

Speaking to reporters as he entered the summit of EU leaders in Brussels, Mr Varadkar said: “There’s no event, there’s no one thing. I appreciate the need for journalism to have ‘a thing’ or a moment but in real life it’s often not like that.”

“But for me, I’m here in Brussels today,” Mr Varadkar went on, “I’ve been coming to Brussels for nearly 14 years now without a break, representing the country as a minister and then as Taoiseach and Tánaiste. There comes a time when you need to move on and you need to make space for new people and new ideas and new energy and that’s what I want to do.”

Mr Varadkar prefaced his remarks with an outline of the issues that EU leaders were planning to discuss, with a particular focus on Gaza.


He said that Ireland’s position on Gaza was “the minority view” at the EU summits before Christmas but now it was “very much the majority view”. He was hopeful of a joint EU statement calling for a humanitarian ceasefire, he said, adding that Ireland would be pushing hard for such an outcome.

“Hopefully we can get that agreed, but the EU works on the basis of unanimity,” Mr Vardakar said.

He said that Israel had “squandered the international support it had” in the wake of the attacks by Hamas on October 7th and added that he believed Israel was in “flagrant breach” of the human rights clause in the EU-Israel trade agreement.

Mr Varadkar said that the leaders would also discuss defence matters, and the proposals for common defence procurement for EU countries.

“There’ll be a discussion on defence. I don’t think that’s something Ireland should be afraid of,” he said.

“While we are a neutral country, we have an army, we have a navy, we have an Air Corps, we need weapons, ships, aircraft and it makes sense for Ireland to be part of that ... We need to take our security seriously,” he said.

Most of the questions addressed to him concerned his shock announcement on Wednesday. He reiterated his message from the announcement – that it was time to let someone else take over leading his party and the Taoiseach’s office.

“What I’m saying is it’s time for change. Time for somebody new. I think it will be good for the party, more importantly it will be good for the Government, good for the country,” he said.

“I’ve had the privilege for over 13 years to represent Ireland around the world to come to Brussels to attend meetings like this. But it can’t be forever, and I don’t want it to be forever.

“You know, I left Leinster House last night at nearly 10pm. I went home, had a takeaway, had a chat with my partner and got up at 8am, or no, before 8am at 6.45 to get on a plane at 8 o’clock – you know, you don’t need to do that forever.”

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times