Varadkar prepares to become taoiseach for second time
Leo Varadkar is preparing to become Ireland’s prime minister for a second time in a handover of power agreed in the deal that formed the current coalition government.
Fine Gael leader Mr Varadkar will replace Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin as Taosieach at a special session of the Dail Parliament in Dublin on Saturday.
The two parties that emerged from the Irish Civil War of the 1920s, after almost a century of animosity, agreed to share power in 2020 after the inconclusive result of that year’s general election.
Ireland’s Greens also joined the coalition.
While Fianna Fail narrowly won the most seats (38) from the 2020 poll, Sinn Fein (with 37 seats) secured the most first preference votes.
Sinn Fein has accused its two main rivals of conspiring to keep them out of power and has continued to heavily criticize the coalition government for its role as the main opposition party in the Dail.
The dynamic between the three major parties will dominate the narrative of Irish politics ahead of the next general election, due to be held before spring 2025.
Mr Varadkar previously served as Taoiseach from 2017 to 2020 at the head of a minority Fine Gael administration which relied on a trust and supply agreement with Fianna Fail to remain in power.
The mid-term PM change will also lead to a cabinet reshuffle in Dublin, but it is expected that there will be minimal departmental moves.
Mr. Martin will become Deputy Prime Minister (tanaiste) and will also hold a ministerial post.
Mr. Varadkar kept the company brief when he served as Tanaist and will vacate that post when he becomes Taoiseach.
One scenario could mean Mr Martin becoming Ireland’s Foreign Secretary – a position he held over a decade ago.
Current Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney could then potentially replace his party leader, Mr Varadkar, at the helm of the Enterprise Department.
It was already agreed in the coalition agreement that Fine Gael Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe and Fianna Fail’s Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath would swap roles.
Formalities on Saturday will begin with Mr Martin’s official resignation at an engagement to Irish President Michael D Higgins in Dublin.
Lord Varadkar is then appointed Taoiseach during a session of the Dail.
The leader of the Fine Gael will then himself travel to Mr Higgins’ residence in Aras an Uachtarain where his appointment will be confirmed.
Cabinet mates will be confirmed in office by the President later in the day, before the reshaped government is expected to hold its first meeting.