Minister Varadkar and the Fine Gael Leadership – op-ed

31st May, 2017

On the day I declared my support for Leo Varadkar, as the person best placed to be the next Leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach of our country, I said he was the most capable politician of my generation. I stand by that claim.


I have known Leo personally, and worked with him in politics, for more than a decade. His intellect, problem-solving capabilities and the fresh approach he brings make him worthy of such gracious plaudits. His performance to date in this leadership contest further reinforces this view.


In Leo, I see the person that is best placed to position Ireland to deal with the challenges, and avail of the opportunities, that will come our way in the years to come. We are living in a changing world, one which sees politics marked not by traditional left and right but by those who encourage openness, tolerance and enhanced interdependence. And those who do not. Leo recognises this better than most and is committed to building a more inclusive and outward looking world. I share this view.


For Ireland, Leo will deliver a new social contract based on equality of opportunity and the contributory principle. His ambitious and expansionary economic policy for Ireland will see the hard won gains of recent years secured so that we have the resources we needed for a more stable future for everyone.


His plan to represent those who ‘get out of bed early’, speaks, not just to those who get up every morning to go to work, but also to carers, those who are raising a family or retraining to find work. By strengthening our social contract in this way, we build on the progress we have been making so we are enabled to do more in the years ahead.


Leo’s catch-up plan for the Ireland left behind also speaks to principles that I hold dear. As the Minister for Social Protection, we worked together in the last Budget to increase social welfare payments – for the first time since 2008- for the most vulnerable in society- carers, the disabled, those who cannot find work or those who cannot go to work.


His economic policy, which includes combining USC and PRSI into a new single payment and setting a revised national debt target are designed to build a more stable tax base and deliver the infrastructure we, as a growing country, need to help us reach our full potential.


In Fine Gael we are exceptionally lucky to have two such accomplished candidates – in Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney – vying to lead our Party and our country in these changing and challenging times. Whatever the outcome, Fine Gael will unite behind the victor this coming Friday. For my part, I will be voting for Leo as the person best suited to the job. I will be asking all those within my Party to do the same.