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Gay Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announces surprise resignation

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar
Niall Carson/PA Images/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

The gay leader was just in Washington, D.C., to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

By Niamh Kennedy and Sophie Tanno, CNN

(CNN) — Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has announced his resignation, in a surprise move.

Speaking to journalists outside government buildings in Dublin on Wednesday, Varadkar said he was leaving for “personal and political, but mainly political” reasons and would stay as prime minister until a successor can be elected after parliament returns from recess next month.

After seven years in office, he said, “I don’t feel I’m the best person for that job anymore,” and that a new taoiseach – the Irish name for prime minister – will be “better placed” to secure re-election.

Varadkar first took power in 2017, after being elected leader of the Fine Gael party. He is the country’s youngest prime minister and Ireland’s first gay leader.

His premiership came to a halt in 2020 after a general election ended with no party winning a majority.

Fine Gael entered a coalition with the rival Fianna Fáil party which saw he and party’s leader Micheál Martin swap the country’s leadership. Varadkar resumed his position as Taoiseach in December 2022.

The announcement follows a difficult few weeks for Varadkar’s government, after it lost two referenda to change what it called “sexist” language in the constitution.

Varadkar will likely be remembered for his efforts to liberalize Ireland, easing the country’s strict anti-abortion laws.

Varadkar, the son of an Indian-born father and Irish mother, became a doctor before first entering Irish parliament at the age of 27.

In 2015, as Minister of Health, Varadkar said he was gay on Irish national radio, joining a handful of other gay politicians in Ireland to support of the landmark Marriage Equality Bill, which allowed same sex couples to marry.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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