Belfast Telegraph

Leo Varadkar likely to become first openly gay Taoiseach

Ireland could be set for its first openly gay Taoiseach after Leo Varadkar was installed as clear front-runner to replace Enda Kenny.

The veteran politician stood down from the helm of Fine Gael at an emotionally-charged meeting of party colleagues in Leinster House in Dublin after delaying the announcement for several months.

Mr Kenny , from Castlebar, Co Mayo, led the party for 15 years and has been at the head of two governments for more than six years.

Nominations for the contest to replace him close on Saturday with the successor due to be elected by June 2 and the Dail due to vote in the new leader as Taoiseach in the following days.

Mr Kenny, Fine Gael's longest-serving Taoiseach, made his announcement at a brief parliamentary party meeting where some supporters were said to have been visibly upset at his long-awaited plans for departure.

Mr Varadkar, a doctor from Dublin and the favourite for the job, is Ireland's first openly gay member of cabinet.

In recent weeks, his campaign to clamp down on welfare cheats has been fiercely criticised in some quarters, including by a former social welfare inspector, and opponents who questioned the level of fraud in the system.

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