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Leo Varadkar says he's happy enough Micheál Martin will get first go as Taoiseach in new government

Varadkar will take on the role of either Minister for Enterprise, Finance or Foreign Affairs.

Image: Sam Boal

LEO VARADKAR HAS said there is a “tinge of regret” in leaving his role as Taoiseach.

When asked by TheJournal.ie this evening if he is happy enough to give Micheál Martin the first go in the role of Taoiseach, he said: 

“Yeah I am, but this isn’t about me.”

“Anybody leaving the Taoiseach’s office is obviously going to feel a certain tinge of regret about that but that is not what’s important. What’s important is we have a stable government for the country, that we’re able to lead the country through the Covid crisis,” he said. 

“While I might not be Taoiseach for the next two years or so it is an enormous privilege to have the opportunity to serve,” added Varadkar.

When asked if he has any advice to Martin, Varadkar smiled and said he already offered him some advice, but added:

“In fairness to Micheál, he is around a while, he gives me advice too.”

Varadkar is set to be Tánaiste, according to the programme for government document.

“The position of An Tánaiste will be held by the Leader of the largest Party not holding the office of An Taoiseach,” it states.

It will be a strengthened role in the coalition, with the document stating that the role of An Tánaiste will play a “significantly enhanced role in day-to-day matters”.

After weeks of negotiations, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party finally reached an agreement on a draft programme for government today

As part of the deal, it has been agreed that the next government will have a rotating position for Taoiseach, with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin all taking the reins first. 

If all goes to plan, the Fianna Fáil leader will be Taoiseach until 15 December 2022. At this point, Varadkar would begin a second term as Taoiseach. 

Asked about this at a press briefing this evening, Varadkar said he hopes to get one of the top jobs, but would not explicitly say if he would take the Tánaiste job. 

“I’ll take a ministry or a Government department. What we have been focusing on is the Programme for Government.”

Asked by reporters today what position he would hold himself, Varadkar replied: “Good question.”

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It is understood Varadkar has three options: Minister for Enterprise, Minister for Finance or Minister for Foreign Affairs.

This would be the first time that there would be an arrangement in place for a “rotating Taoiseach” in an Irish government. 

Speaking to reporters this evening, Varadkar said his party want him to become Taoiseach again after the couple of years pass.

Traditionally in coalition governments here, the leader of the largest party becomes Taoiseach and leader of the junior partner becomes Tánaiste.

However, the result of February’s general election left the numbers extremely tight between the three largest parties. Fianna Fáil emerged with 38 seats, Sinn Féin with 37 and Fine Gael with 35. 

Talking about the historic antagonism between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Varadkar said: “I think we can overcome it. It is the first time we’ve had a coalition of this nature, we’re going to have to learn to work with each other. I’ll have the privilege of serving in a third successive Government.” 

Varadkar said that those in the three-party coalition are now only starting to get to know each other properly and that the political hatchets will have to be buried quickly. 

For the government to be formed the members of each party must vote in favour and ratify the deal made between the three parties. 

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