Leo Varadkar was born and raised in Dublin. He is a qualified medical doctor and a graduate of Trinity College Dublin.
Elected Taoiseach in June 2017, Leo Varadkar presided over a period of strong economic growth during which employment levels reached a record high, the public finances moved back into surplus, real incomes rose and poverty and deprivation rates fell to a ten year low. As Taoiseach he led Ireland’s negotiations on Brexit which ensured that there would be no hard border between North and South and the common travel area and reciprocal citizens’ rights between Britain and Ireland would remain in place. The period has also been one of major social reform during which referendums were held and won to end Ireland’s constitutional prohibitions on abortion and blasphemy and to liberalise divorce laws. Ireland also ratified the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities and the Istanbul convention against domestic violence during his time as Taoiseach.
Following the 2020 General Election, Leo Varadkar led Ireland through the public health crisis caused by Covid-19. In his new role as Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, he is now helping to lead Ireland through the economic crisis it triggered. This means getting businesses back open and people back to work.
He was a member of Fingal County Council (2003-7) and elected to Dáil Éireann for the Dublin West constituency on his first attempt in 2007 and was re-elected to a fourth term in 2020.
As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport (2011-2014) he connected Dublin’s light rail system (the Luas), helped restore growth to the tourism industry and led the ‘Gathering Ireland 2013’. He also gave Shannon airport independence from Dublin and developed Ireland’s National Sports Campus. He look a leadership role on road safety tightening up Ireland’s road traffic laws.
As Minister for Health (2014-15), he brought in free GP care for children up to age 5 and adults over 69, after decades of delay got Ireland’s long-promised new National Children’s Hospital through planning, government approval and the legislative process and published the Public Health Alcohol Bill which is now law.
As Minister for Social Protection (2015-16) he increased pensions, social welfare payments for carers, people with disabilities and lone parents. He introduced paid paternity benefit for the first time in Ireland and extended new social insurance benefits and protections to the self-employed and farmers.
He is parliamentary leader and President of the Fine Gael party (EPP affiliate) and led the party into a historic third term in government in coalition with Fianna Fail and the Green Party.
As Ireland’s first openly gay cabinet minister and Taoiseach, he was involved in the successful campaign to secure marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples and has championed improvements to sexual health including extending the HPV vaccine to boys, made HIV testing more available and introduced a free public PrEP programme.
Leo lives in Dublin with his partner Dr Matthew Barrett.
Friday 9am to 2pm 30th July 2021
Keynote : Leo Varadkar
Keynote by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar