Varadkar’s eclipse by Harris almost complete as Taoiseach resigns at Áras

Resignation signals start of Harris’s government which will be officially appointed by President on Tuesday evening

Leo Varadkar has been putting a positive spin on his decision to resign as Taoiseach but Monday’s weather ensured he was leaving under a cloud.

Mr Varadkar arrived at a dreary Phoenix Park shortly before 6pm to officially tender his resignation as Taoiseach, paving the way for new Fine Gael leader Simon Harris to assume the role.

His resignation comes just more than 13 years since he first arrived at Áras an Uachtaráin as minister for transport in the cabinet of then incoming taoiseach Enda Kenny. There is a natural cycle to every taoiseach and just as solar eclipses come round sporadically, so do party leaders periodically fall into the shadow of competitors.

Although officially resigned, Mr Varadkar will remain as acting Taoiseach until Mr Harris is appointed by President Michael D Higgins on Tuesday afternoon.


A smiling Mr Varadkar arrived at the Áras in advance of schedule to resign, giving a brief wave to damp, shivering reporters after exiting his car.

He was followed closely by advisers Bríd Murphy and Nick Miller as well as John Callinan, secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach, who was present to oversee the formal resignation.

Inside, Mr Varadkar handed a letter to Mr Higgins tendering his resignation before having a discussion with the President during a 45-minute visit. Heavy rain returned as Mr Varadkar left the Áras under an umbrella.

Mr Varadkar has remained tight-lipped on his future plans since his announcement just under three weeks ago that he would step down for “both personal and political” reasons.

He will remain as TD for Dublin West, but beyond that, he previously said he has nothing else lined up “or in mind”.

His resignation came after his final official engagement which saw him attend a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council in Co Armagh earlier on Monday.

When asked in Armagh if he will run as a TD in the next general election, he told reporters he will decide after the summer, adding that he looks forward to a “good summer break” following the local and European elections in June.

“I haven’t taken more than two consecutive weeks off since 1996 so I’m looking forward to having a decent summer break and will make that decision then,” he said.

In parting comments in the North, Mr Varadkar also expressed hope that negative perceptions of him among some unionists will be reassessed in the future.

Asked if he thought unionist criticism of him was fair, he said: “I would hope perhaps in a few years’ time, with the fullness of time, when things look a bit different, with hindsight, that might be reassessed.

“I spent a huge amount of my time as Taoiseach trying to make sure that [Brexit] didn’t create a hard border between North and South and didn’t adversely affect Ireland’s position in the European Union,” he said.

First elected as a TD for Dublin West in 2007, Mr Varadkar was appointed by former taoiseach Enda Kenny as minister for transport in 2011 before then becoming minister for health in 2014.

He beat Simon Coveney to become leader of Fine Gael in 2017 and became the youngest person to take up the role of Taoiseach which he held on to for seven years in total.

His resignation signals the beginning of Mr Harris’s government which will be officially appointed by Mr Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin on Tuesday evening when all eyes will be on his cabinet reshuffle.