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13th Jun 2017

Leo Varadkar’s choice as Fine Gael deputy leader is a step towards unifying the party

Olive branch


Leo Varadkar is the Taoiseach-elect and he has just made his first significant appointment.

The new Fine Gael leader addressed the Fine Gael parliamentary party for the first time since his election on Tuesday afternoon, after Enda Kenny faced his final Leaders Questions as Taoiseach before travelling to Áras an Uachtaráin to formally resign.

His successor as leader of Fine Gael, Varadkar, beat rival Simon Coveney in a sometimes bitter leadership battle.

However, in a gesture that he no doubt hopes will help to reunite Fine Gael ahead of his expected successful nomination as Taoiseach, the Dublin West TD has named Coveney as his deputy leader.

Perceived as the Dublin-centric leader of a party with a large rural power base, Varadkar will hope to assuage the majority of the grassroots who voted for his Cork colleague.

Coveney will succeed James Reilly as deputy leader but it remains to be seen if he will be selected as Tanaiste.

Mr Varadkar said: “Simon and I will work together to guide the participation by Fine Gael in the Government, and reform and modernise the Fine Gael party in the years ahead.”

Mr Coveney said: “I am honoured to have been asked to take on the role of deputy leader of Fine Gael. I will ensure this is an active role which reaches out to the members of the Party across the country.”

Mr Varadkar is expected to be elected as Taoiseach on Wednesday afternoon.

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