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Tadgh McNally/The Journal

As it happened: Varadkar says he has a ‘burning desire’ to bring hope as he's elected Taoiseach

Here’s how the day played out.

LEO VARADKAR HAS been confirmed as Taoiseach for the second time, replacing Micheál Martin in an unprecedented rotation agreement.

Varadkar has also named his Cabinet, with very few changes to Ministers.

Here’s how the day played out.

Updates were from Tadgh McNally, Christina Finn, Jane Moore and Emer Moreau.

Good morning! 

We’re in for a long day of politics today as Leo Varadkar is set to become Taoiseach later this morning.

Micheál Martin has already visited Áras an Uachtaráin and tendered his resignation to President Michael D Higgins.

So, Dáil proceedings are due to kick off in the next few minutes at 10.30, with Micheál Martin due to announce his resignation in the chamber.

This will then begin the nominations for Taoiseach, where Leo Varadkar will be nominated and is set to be elected by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party TDs.

Sinn Féin have confirmed that they will not be nominating Mary Lou McDonald for Taoiseach.

A spokesperson for the party said that “nothing will change until we have a change of government” and that a general election is needed.

Both Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin have now arrived into the Dáil chamber

TaoisRotation Oireachtas TV Oireachtas TV

Micheál Martin begins his speech paying tribute to Private Seán Rooney, who was killed in an attack on Lebanon on Wednesday night.

He also paid tributes to injured soldier Shane Kearney, who is currently in a stable but critical condition.

Martin confirms that he has tendered his resignation as Taoiseach.

He tells the Dáil that it had been both a “privilege and a responsibility to serve as head of government”.

Martin references the Covid-19 pandemic, which was in full swing when he took office as Taoiseach in June 2020.

“The weeks and months which followed were intense and challenging, as we worked to both build new working relationships and respond to the rapidly evolving emergencies on hand,” Martin said.

He acknowledged that there had been mistakes made in the handling of the pandemic, but praised health services for their work on “one of the most successful vaccine programs in the world”.

Martin has thanked both Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan for their “close and highly constructive way in which they have worked to ensure cooperation in the government”. 


Attorney General to step down

Martin confirms that Attorney General Paul Gallagher will be stepping down from his role during the reshuffle.

He says that Gallagher has been “one of the great Attorneys General and that “the range and depth of his legal knowledge is unmatched”.

Martin also speaks on the war in Ukraine, saying that the “resolve” of the people of Ukraine has been inspiring, alongside the generosity of Irish people for supporting Ukrainians.

He also hit out at Vladimir Putin and the Russian Government.

This appalling war is the fault of one man, his government and an ideology which seeks to destroy the very possibility of free democracy.

Martin has thanked his wife Mary and immediately family for the “for the unfailing advice, support, and encouragement they have given me”.

“We have been blessed by the wonderful community of Cork, which has looked out for us and given me the strongest possible reassurance that all would be well as I spent so much time away.”

Martin also thanked the TDs in the Dáil.

In the moments following his speech, Martin receives a standing ovation from TD across the chamber.

Fine Gael TD, Richard Bruton, is up speaking and is set to nominate Leo Varadkar to become the next Taoiseach.

He says that Varadkar has the three characteristics needed to become Taoiseach: “strength of character”, “courage”, and “restless curiosity”.

Bruton has now nominated Varadkar for the role of Taoiseach, with Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins now seconding the motion.

Higgins compares the coalition between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party to the winning team in tomorrow’s World Cup Final.

She also compares the Government’s record of delivery to that of Santa Claus.

“This day next week, a certain someone will leave the North Pole to deliver to boys and girls. 

“And that’s exactly what this government has done. Deliver.


Micheál Martin is back up again following the nomination of Leo Varadkar to be the next Taoiseach.

Martin says that he has worked closely with both Varadkar and Eamon Ryan and says that a “core respect” has been a key feature for the coalition Government.

He says that addressing the “deep impact of the pandemic”, hospital waiting lists and the construction of additional housing will remain “central to our agenda”.


Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath says that the proceedings today are a “historical occasion in the history of our nation”.

He says that it is happening without either “drama” or “rancour” proves that the current Government is both stable and unified.

McGrath is full of praise for Martin, saying that Ireland has been lucky to have been led by “a Taoiseach of the calibre of Micheál Martin at so many difficult moments”.

 His integrity, experience and innate decency has shone through.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan is now speaking, calling today “an important day”.

Ryan says that it is now “half time” and that the Captain’s armband will be passed from Micheál Martin to Leo Varadkar.

“The captains band armband will be passed from one to the other but it will be a similar team,” Ryan says.

Ryan says that the biggest challenge for the next two years and into the next two to three decades will be climate change.

He says that Ireland needs to tap into “our own energy resources” alongside “fundamentally” changing Irish farming and forestry.

Ryan references Richard Bruton’s speech, saying that a Taoiseach needs to be “clever”, “collegiate” and “compassionate”.

He says that while there are arguments within the Government, there aren’t always losers in these arguments.

He adds that the Government will do everything they can over the remaining two years of their term.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald is now up speaking and has paid tribute to Micheál Martin, wishing him well in his new portfolio.

However, she criticises him for saying that the Government had performed well so far.

“Martin argued in his speech that this government is successful, that this government is delivering,” McDonald said.

Well, the rest of us must live in a very different Ireland from you.


McDonald says that a “generation has been locked out of home ownership” and says that the policies of Fine Gael are “writ large” over the housing crisis, healthcare crisis and economic inequality.

She adds that Leo Varadkar has been at “the center of these crises” at the Cabinet table and then as Taoiseach from 2017 to 2020.

McDonald has now called for a General Election, calling the current coalition out of touch and out of time.

“They are out of touch, out of ideas and out of time,” McDonald says.

Micheál Martin has resigned as Taoiseach and the Government dissolved. We should now have a general election because we need a change of government.

She says that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are now essentially the same party and that the two parties “cannot, and you will not stop that change”.

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik says that her party will not support the nomination of Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach.

“We do not believe that this change over represents anything but a cosmetic change at a time when we do need to see a real and substantial change in the policies and the solutions proposed by government,” Bacik tells the Dáil.


Bacik questions the likely minimalistic Cabinet reshuffle that is expected later today.

“Why are we seeing the same ministers retained in Departments where they’re simply not delivering necessary change?” asks Bacik.

She says that the incoming Taoiseach may perhaps surprise her with a wider Cabinet reshuffle “with more dramatic changes that have been that have been expected”.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy has said that her party cannot support a rotating Taoiseach, saying that there will be no change of direction for the Government.

She adds that the Programme for Government had been a “failure”, particularly on housing.


Murphy says that it is “not evident” that the current Government are treating the ongoing housing crisis as “the emergency that it is”.

She cites the rising homelessness figures, saying that children are losing their childhoods due to the crisis,

“The housing crisis has been paid by 3,480 children losing their childhoods, as they grow up in emergency accommodation.”

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett is speaking now and says that now is not the time to change the Taoiseach but instead time to change the Government.

“We need a different type of society where people are put before the profits and wealth of a tiny few,” said Boyd Barrett.

“We need a left government, we need a socialist government that will use the wealth and resources that exist in our society, to eliminate homelessness, to end the scandal of people waiting on trolleys.”

He adds that opposition parties need to pledge not to “prop up” a Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael Government following the next General Election.


People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith has quoted Bon Jovi in her speech in the Dáil.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same… it’s just reality: It’s the same damn song with a different melody.”

Aontú TD Peadar Tóibín has criticised Leo Varadkar, saying that he has been a central figure in a Government that has seen the “worst housing crisis in history” and “record homelessness”.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has compared the Taoiseach rotation to the song ‘Lanigan’s Ball’ “as I stepped out, you stepped in again, I stepped out at Lannigan’s Ball”.

Independent TD Michael Healy Rae has wished both Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar well as they swap roles on their “good day”.

However, he says that it is not a good day for “the thousands of homeless people and the people on the housing list” or those on hospital waiting lists.


The Dáil chamber is now starting to fill up as TDs prepare to vote for the new Taoiseach


While we wait for the vote to kick off, the President’s Office has released an image of Micheál Martin meeting with President Michael D Higgins to resign as Taoiseach.

The clerk of the Dáil is now taking a roll call vote for the election of Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach.


Varadkar elected as Taoiseach

Leo Varadkar has been deemed elected as Taoiseach by the Dáil this afternoon in an unprecedented handover.

There were 87 votes in favour while there were 62 votes against.

He will now travel to the Áras to be appointed by the President.

Speaking in the Dáil after his election, new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:

“I’m very proud of the State that was created 100 years ago, under most extreme pressure throughout difficult crises and challenges.”

He commended Micheál Martin for his leadership by “putting the country before politics and for providing reassurance and hope during difficult times.”

Varadkar added that “we have to go all out to turn the corner on homelessness and homeownership” and accelerate the Housing for All plan.

“It’s about making home ownership a reality for the many again.”

He also spoke about taming inflation and the need to “bring the cost of living under control”.


Varadkar is now speaking about the vulnerable in society and of children.

“We need to improve access to therapies, provide better special needs education, and do more for those who need it most. We also need to do more about child poverty and disadvantage.

“We know that poverty restricts a child’s opportunity, and casts a long shadow over their lives,” he added.

Varadkar concluded:

“As Taoiseach my mission will be to build on the achievement of 100 years ago, and work on what needs to be done for this generation and the next. Providing hope and housing, economic opportunity and a fair start for all.

And so, I accept this nomination by the Dáil with humility and resolve, with a burning desire to make good the promise of 100 years ago and to provide new hope and new opportunities for all of our citizens.

Varadkar has left Leinster House now to travel to Áras an Uachtaráin, where his nomination will be confirmed by President Michael D Higgins.

So, there we have it.

Leo Varadkar is now the Taoiseach after meeting with the President at Áras an Uachtaráin.

As he left Leinster House this afternoon after being elected by the Dáil, Varadkar was met with applause by an awaiting crowd of TDs and Senators outside the doors.

He wandered up among the politicians, shaking hands and hugging people who lined the path to his car.

A gaggle of photographers and journalists attempted to get Varadkar’s attention for photographs as he got into the car that would take him to meet with the President Michael D Higgins.

leo-varadkar-becomes-taoiseach Taoiseach Leo Varadkar PA PA

All the while, there were shouts of protestors at the gates of Leinster House.

Varadkar now will return to Leinster House and Government Buildings to select his Cabinet.

While we won’t know for sure it’s makeup until later this afternoon, it is expected to be a minimalistic change, with some Ministers swapping roles rather then being dropped.

With Micheál Martin set to be appointed as Tánaiste, all eyes will be on the portfolio he chooses as that may dictate what the wider reshuffle looks like.

Proceedings in the Dáil are now concluded until the new Taoiseach selects his Cabinet

The full Cabinet will then be revealed when the Dáil returns later this afternoon.

While we might not be updating this liveblog as often until the Dáil is back in session, we’ll do our best to keep you posted on who is in and who has been dropped.

In case you need it, here’s a recap on what’s going to happen later today:

This evening, Varadkar will call in members of his new Cabinet to tell them what ministerial brief they will be in charge of.

The Dáil will sign off on the ministers before proceedings end in Leinster House after 7pm.

The appointment of the new Cabinet will then take place in State Reception Room at Áras an Uachtaráin.

The President will sign the Warrant of Appointment for the Members of the Government and the Warrant of Appointment of the new Attorney General, each of which will be countersigned by the Taoiseach.

The President will then present each minister in turn with their Seal of Office.

Here’s Varadkar being presented with his Seal of the Office of the Taoiseach and Seal of Government from the President

taoiseach varadkar 2 (1) Government Information Services Government Information Services

The president of the European Parliament has paid tribute to Martin and Varadkar:

The calls have been taking place this afternoon and politicians are being told what ministry they will hold in the new Cabinet. 

The Journal understands that Darragh O’Brien is staying on in his housing brief, as was indicated by Micheal Martin at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis a couple of months ago.

Eamon Ryan had previously indicated to the other coalition leaders that the Greens were happy to stay with their ministerial briefs. 


The health brief was one all eyes were watching, but it appears that Stephen Donnelly will be remaining on as health minister. 

The latest Cabinet re-appointments include:

  • Norma Foley, who will be remaining in Education
  • Charlie McConalogue, who will be remaining in Agriculture

Jack Chambers is set to be moved into the Department of Transport, taking on the role of a super junior minister at that Department.

Chambers had previously been the Chief Whip.

Martin to Foreign Affairs

Micheál Martin is now set to be appointed to the Department of Foreign Affairs, moving Simon Coveney into another brief.

As to where Simon Coveney is going, he’ll be headed for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, our Political Correspondent Christina Finn reports.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar back up in the Dáil now detailing his appointments to Cabinet.


Overall, there have been no personnel changes at the Cabinet table.

One change is at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which will now be entitled the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform.

Paschal Donohoe is set to take over at this Department after departing Finance.

The appointed Ministers are as follows:

Micheal Martin – Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Defence

Eamon Ryan – Minister for Transport, Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications

Michael McGrath – Minister for Finance

Paschal Donohoe – Minister for Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform

Norma Foley – Minister for Education

Stephen Donnelly – Minister for Health

Charlie McConalogue – Minister for Agriculture

Simon Harris – Minister for Higher Education and interim Minister for Justice

Heather Humphreys – Minister for Social Protection, Minister for Rural and Community Development

Simon Coveney – Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Catherine Martin – Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media

Roderic O’Gorman – Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Darragh O’Brien – Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage

Helen McEntee – Minister without Portfolio

Rossa Fanning – Attorney General

Hildegarde Naughton – Chief Whip

Jack Chambers – Super Junior at Dept of Transport

Pippa Hackett – Super Junior at Dept of Agriculture

Speaking in the Dail, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: 

“We are facing deep political and social crises, and they affect every community in our country. 

“We need to treat each of them as a national emergency and deploy the full resources of the State, the full machinery of Government, to make an immediate and real difference and this is what we are committed to as a Government.

“When the life of our nation was in peril we joined together to protect each other.   Today the hopes and dreams of our nation depend on us fixing the problems we face.  To do so, we need to go all out. To be radical or redundant.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also explained the reasoning in changing the name of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform.

“I am doing so for a particular purpose. Too many important public capital projects are taking far too long. Schools, hospitals, garda stations, public transport projects, among others. I want this Department to bring about a step change when it comes to the execution and delivery of the National Development Plan – Project Ireland 2040.”

Speaking about housing, Varadkar said the Housing for All is a comprehensive plan.

“We need to clear bottlenecks and turn the tens of thousands of unactivated planning permissions into new homes.

“We need to dramatically reduce dereliction and bring down rents in real terms.

“The second is taming inflation and bringing the cost of living under control. In the months ahead we will assess the challenges facing our citizens, whether to do with cost of energy, childcare, education, rent or healthcare. We will take account of price developments and adjust policies accordingly.”

And here’s the new Cabinet in their first photo together.

New Cabinet

There has been criticism of the Taoiseach rotation in the Dáil this evening, with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald saying that little has changed.

She hit out at the reappointment of Ministers “who failed to get the job done” and issued a new call for a General Election.

Labour’s Ivana Bacik and Ged Nash have also hit out at the Government, calling it a “moderate reset” rather than a reshuffle.

Bacik said that the current Government had failed on housing, the climate emergency and child poverty.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall has criticised Micheál Martin, saying it was “disingenuous” to say that opposition parties only want to exploit problems in his speech earlier today.

She said that her party had put forward solutions but these had been “rejected on ideological grounds” by the coalition.

She added that Leo Varadkar had sought to “evade responsibility for the housing disaster”.

Drawing on Emer Higgins comparison of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar earlier today, People Before Profit’s Paul Murphy instead compares Varadkar to Ebenezer Scrooge.

“The truth is that the Christmas figure that Varadkar most resembles is not Santa but Ebenezer Scrooge.”

He added that the “Scrooge-like Government” would be haunted by massive opposition movements, like the cost-of-living protests which took place last month.

There are some rumblings in Fine Gael already with the appointment of Hildegarde Naughton as Chief Whip.

Fine Gael Senator Sean Kyne has tweeted this evening congratulating Naughton on her promotion while also issuing commiserations to Brendan Griffin, who he said had been overlooked.

“Commiserations to my good friend @BGriffinTD after performing the deputy chief whip role for the last 2 and half years with great ability, on being overlooked,” Kyne tweeted.

The Dáil will shortly vote to allow the new Cabinet to be appointed by President Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin.


The Dáil has voted to confirm the Cabinet this evening, with Ministers now set to head to the Áras to be appointed by the President.

There were 86 votes in favour compared to 57 votes against.

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and newly appointed Cabinet members are now travelling to Áras an Uachtaráin to collect their seals of office from the President.

Our Political Correspondent Christina Finn sat down with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald today, in which she explained why her party didn’t nominate her for Taoiseach as was widely expected.

She said: “Well, very simply, what’s happening today is a very cosmetic shuffling of the deck.

“And we’ve heard already, the fact that they’re doubling down on their plans on housing and in other areas, plans that are very obviously failing. So we had to make a decision on it. And to be honest with you, rather than give credibility to this façade, our view is what we need is not a change of Taoiseach, we need a change of government. That of course, means a general election.”

You can read the full interview here.

2351 Leo Varadkar Sam Boal Sam Boal

The new Cabinet has received their seals of office from President Michael D Higgins

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