Irish Prime Minister Announces Shocking Resignation

Fine Gael, the governing party of Ireland last Sunday named Simon Harris as its new leader, clearing the way for him to replace outgoing Prime Minister Leo Varadkhar who abruptly resigned just days earlier, CNN reported.

Varadkhar, who made history in 2017 by becoming Ireland’s first gay prime minister, announced on March 20 that he was stepping down as head of the Fine Gael party for personal and political reasons effectively immediately.

Varadkar did not elaborate on why he was resigning but did say he planned to remain in parliament for the time being and had “definite” plans for the future.

The 45-year-old Varadkar served as Ireland’s Taoiseach (prime minister) twice, from 2017 to 2020 and again starting in December 2022.

He was the country’s first openly gay and biracial prime minister and the youngest prime minister in the country’s history.

During his tenure, Varadkhar was instrumental in the effort to repeal Ireland’s ban on abortion which was passed by voters in a 2018 referendum. He also played a large role in the effort to legalize gay marriage in 2015.

With the 37-year-old Simon Harris now replacing Varadkhar as the head of Fine Gael, he is poised to also replace Varadkhar as Ireland’s youngest prime minister.

In his acceptance speech following the March 24 party conference in County West Meath, Harris said it was his “absolute honor” to take over the leadership of the party.

Harris also thanked former PM Varadkhar for his “incredible leadership,” saying that during the “key moments of social change” in Ireland, from Brexit to COVID, Varadkhar “delivered.” He said Varadkhar’s legacy was “significant.”

Harris has been serving as Minister for Higher Education in Varadkhar’s government. He previously served as Ireland’s Health Minister from 2016 until 2020.

Harris is expected to be formally elected prime minister when the Irish parliament meets after the Easter break.