Latest: Leo Varadkar: My government will be neither left nor right, but of the centre

Latest: Leo Varadkar: My government will be neither left nor right, but of the centre

Leo Varadkar has been formally elected the new Taoiseach by the members of the Dáil - 10 years to the day after he was first elected a TD.

Update 2.25pm: Newly elected Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has promised his new Government will "not be one of left or right" but will be of "the new European centre, a Republic where every citizen gets a fair go", writes Fiachra O Cionnaith.

In his acceptance speech after winning an uncontested Dáil vote to become Taoiseach by 57 votes to 50, with 51 abstentions, Mr Varadkar gave glimpses of his vision while in power.

Latest: Leo Varadkar: My government will be neither left nor right, but of the centre

In a short speech to the House before suspending business until 6.30pm to meet President Michael D Higgins and finalise his new cabinet, Mr Varadkar said he wants to lead a nation for everyone.

Mr Varadkar began by thanking outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny for helping with the early stages of his Dáil career, saying "I would not be standing here" if it were not for the support.

Citing Mr Kenny's "leadership" during the marriage equality referendum in 2015, Mr Varadkar said it "enabled me to become an equal citizen in my own country two years ago" and assume a new position he felt was out of his reach, "at least if I chose to be myself".

Mr Varadkar said among his first acts as Taoiseach will be to speak with British prime minister Theresa May about Brexit and last night's horrific London apartment block fire, in a phone call this evening.

Latest: Leo Varadkar: My government will be neither left nor right, but of the centre

He also said he does not want his Government to be "just about one person", saying it will also not be a Government of "left and right, it will be one of the new European centre where every citizen gets a fair go".

Appearing to confirm smaller parties will be given less time to speak in the Dáil - an issue that has provoked much controversy but has been welcomed by Fine Gael backbenchers - Mr Varadkar said while everyone is entitled to their voice it must be "proportionate".

In a lighter, if bizarre, moment, Mr Varadkar - who has assumed the highest role in Irish politics despite presiding over a series of health crises and regularly dividing public opinion due to his outspoken comments - also directly addressed Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams earlier jibe they shared a pilates class but little else, by saying: "I want to thank Gerry Adams for revealing our little secret. He was better at it, perhaps because he has more experience of being in a tight squeeze."

The Dáil is now adjourned until 6.30pm to allow Mr Varadkar to travel to Aras an Uachtaráin and be ratified by President Michael D Higgins.

His new Cabinet will be formally announced at this point.

Stay with us for updates, and our political team of Daniel McConnell (political editor), Fiachra Ó Cionnaith (political correspondent), Juno McEnroe (political correspondent) and Elaine Loughlin (political reporter) on Twitter for further updates throughout the day.

Update 2.05pm: Opposition Independents have fielded a flurry of demands at incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, ranging from the serious to the jocular in the Dáil.

Independents 4 Change TD Mick Wallace said Mr Varadkar should immediately address allegedly hidden financial crises in Ireland if he wants to succeed in power.

Mr Wallace said the ongoing issues at Nama and vulture funds who are "paying bugger-all tax" must be tackled quickly.

While saying he disagrees with his policies, Mr Wallace said "I will still wish you well", adding jokingly: "And good luck to the other fella".

Mr Wallace was closely followed by Dr Michael Harty, who confirmed that as expected he will not be continuing his vote-by-vote support for Government, and Mattie McGrath.

In a bizarre criticism, Mr McGrath attempted to reference The Who's 1970s hit "Don't Get Fooled Again" and its song lyric "meet the new boss, same as the old boss".

However, after stumbling over the words to laughter, Mr McGrath looked across at the Fine Gael TDs, saying in a bizarre tongue-twister: "Yeah, Who. Who's who now, but who will be Who over there this evening?" before adding he would not vote for Mr Varadkar "number one because you didn't ask me to".

He was followed by controversial unaligned opposition Independent TD Michael Lowry, who said he would provide "strong" and "stable" support for Fine Gael following on from his previous support for Enda Kenny.

Taking issue with Brendan Howlin's earlier comments, Mr Lowry said they were "nasty and offensive" and inspired by Tipperary constituency rival Alan Kelly.

Mr Lowry insisted he has "exactly the same entitlements as any other deputy to access the officials of this House".

However, the view was soon tackled by Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy, who said she "takes issue" with someone who has been before the courts on financial issues giving out advice.

Ms Murphy also hit out at Mr Varadkar, saying "just because someone comes from a diverse background doesn't mean they have empathy for people from that background".

And the Government criticism continued from Michael Healy Rae, Greens leader Eamon Ryan and Seamus Healy, all of whom took aim at Mr Varadkar and his coalition colleagues.

In particular, Greens leader Mr Ryan said while Mr Varadkar has a strong public image he is failing to prioritise climate change and other green matters.

"You're too right wing, and despite all the pilates and frappo-ccinos, and jogging, there's not a scintilla of Green in you," he said.

Update 1.41pm: Unaligned opposition Independent TD Catherine Connolly has warned Mr Varadkar to address the health and housing crises in Ireland, insisting they are "not a collateral damage" to a wider "thriving" economy.

In her speech in response to the nomination of Mr Varadkar as Taoiseach, Ms Connolly said it is wrong that Ireland should be comfortable with "a city of excellence with one MRI" in its hospital.

Noting the outcome of the last general election, she said the public "didn't ask for someone to patronise them" but instead want a serious debate on the issues affecting the country on a daily basis, and called out Mr Varadkar's "informer" social welfare policy, saying it was promoted "for short term gain".

Latest: Leo Varadkar: My government will be neither left nor right, but of the centre

Update 1.19pm: Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett also said his alliance cannot support the election of Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach, a view supported by colleagues Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry.

Mr Boyd Barrett took time to pay his sympathies to those who died in the tragic London fire last night.

Referencing the "fanfare of the last few days and the pantomime of the Fine Gael election" Mr Boyd Barrett said there is a sense of "anger" among the public over inaction on issues such as housing, and demands Mr Varadkar now addresses the matter.

Update 12.50pm: Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin wished Leo Varadkar every success as Taoiseach and said: “While my party cannot support your election as Taoiseach on the basis of the existing programme for Government, it is a proud day for you.

“I am sure it is a happy day for your partner Matthew, for your parents Ashok and Miriam, and for all of your friends and family.

“For a gay man, for the son of a migrant, to be elected Taoiseach, is an important step. As you have pointed out yourself it speaks well of this Republic. But, as I think you agree, that is not and should not be the end of the story.

“I wish you well in your time as Taoiseach, and I mean that sincerely. However, Labour will continue to oppose this Government.”

In his concluding remarks, he said: “Your predecessor was not a perfect man, but he was and is a good man. He always sought to lead from the front – with humour and integrity. If you can do the same, that will be a start.”

Update 12.45pm: Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has told the Dáil that while he welcomes Leo Varadkar's family, he is concerned the incoming Taosieach will move the country "more to the right".

He said Mr Varadkar "presided over a two-tier health service", and that his approach to welfare fraud contradicts the Fine Gael approach to white collar crime.

In a bizarre moment, Mr Adams joked while he does not know Mr Varadkar well, "he and I once attended the same pilates class".

However, the confrontational approach continued, with fellow Sinn Féin TD Louise O Reilly referring to Mr Varadkar's trade union policies by saying "I know a Thatcherite strike ban when I see one".

Update 12.20pm: With no rival Taoiseach nominations from other parties, the opposition speeches now begin.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin uses the opportunity to chastise Sinn Féin TD John Brady for "tweeting from the chamber" yesterday to criticise Mr Martin for describing Mr Kenny as "an Irish patriot".

Making a personal point, Mr Martin says "this is a very special day for Leo Varadkar" and his "family and loved ones have every right to be immensely proud".

"I think even Deputy Varadkar was somewhat embarrassed by the euphoria (with which) his personal story was embraced by some commentators".

Noting the fact Leo Varadkar is not being nominated by Noel Rock - who nominated Enda Kenny three times last year - Micheal Martin said: "He has today started well by getting somebody other than Noel Rock to nominate him. As we all know, that didn't work out too well last time."

He continued that the "true mark" of Mr Varadkar's success would be "to represent all of the people", adding "it is not about winners or losers, or finding new labels to divide people".

Mr Martin also said Mr Varadkar is "far more right wing" than people expect, and "won the hearts" of Fine Gael TDs by attacking rival parties aggressively.

In another attack on Government, he said the appointment of outgoing attorney general Maire Whelan to the court of appeal was "rushed".

He said it was an appointment made without reason and the first to take place this way "in a quarter of a century".

Turning his focus to the inaction of the Dáil over the past year, Mr Martin said: "After a wasted year of delay, the time for excuses is over.... We need a new focus on the much harder work of delivering for the people."

It is safe to say Mr Martin's speech on Leo Varadkar's appointment is far more combative than his farewell speech to Enda Kenny yesterday - a sign of things to come.

Update 12.10pm: As is tradition, outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny has nominatesd his successor Leo Varadkar to become Ireland's next Taoiseach.

In a short statement to the Dáil, Mr Kenny said Mr Varadkar's relative youth means he speaks "for a new generation" which allows "each person to fulfil their potential and dreams".

Before saying: "I wish Leo Varadkar and his team every success", Mr Kenny outlined a number of ongoing issues, including those in health, housing and social services.

He said he is "confident" Mr Varadkar - who was one of the main agitators in ultimately removing Mr Kenny - has "demonstrated the drive and commitment required to succeed in politics".

​First-time TD Josepha Madigan formally seconded Enda Kenny's nomination of Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach, describing him as "honest" and "brave".

"You are sensitive to the needs and wants of all, you are dedicated to the people... you have the talent to lead the country..."You are the right person for the right time."

Update - 11.56am: Leo Varadkar's family and partner Matt are in attendance for his promotion as Taoiseach, the debate for which begins at noon.

Update 10.20am: Outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny has wished his replacement Leo Varadkar well "in the many challenges ahead" during his final official engagement as Government leader, writes Fiachra O Cionnaith, political correspondent.

Speaking to reporters as he arrived at the official re-opening of the National Gallery of Ireland on Merrion Square in Dublin, Mr Kenny said the country he is "good shape" and that his replacement's cabinet should "mind itself very carefully in the interests of the people".

"I am here to open the gallery - that's what I'm confining my business to at the moment. The Dáil will do its business afterwards and I want to wish Leo and the ministers the best of luck in the many challenges ahead.

"The country is in good shape, much better than it was and I'm sure the incoming Government will mind itself very carefully in the interests of the people," he said.

Latest: Leo Varadkar: My government will be neither left nor right, but of the centre

Update - 9.37am: A series of high-profile Government ministers and TDs are set to be shunned by Leo Varadkar when he announces his new Cabinet later today.

As reported in this morning's Irish Examiner front page, Simon Coveney is likely to fail in attempts to be made Tánaiste after he was announced as the party's new deputy leader last night.

It had been strongly hinted Mr Coveney was seeking the Tánaiste role.

However, it is being reported that he will not be given the position, and in addition will move from Housing to Foreign Affairs - a change Mr Coveney is believed to have sought but which is likely to leave him open to severe criticism he is walking away from a national emergency role.

Latest: Leo Varadkar: My government will be neither left nor right, but of the centre

The non-change at Tanaiste means crisis-hit Frances Fitzgerald is now expected to remain in the role, although she is still likely to move from the Department of Justice.

She will potentially be replaced by Richard Bruton, who is understood to be keen to instead move to an economic portfolio, leaving a role open in Education.

Mr Varadkar's campaign manager in the recent Fine Gael leadership election, Eoghan Murphy, has been widely tipped to become Jobs Minister in the reshuffled cabinet, a key promotion for the current junior finance minister.

However, he is instead now rumoured for a super junior minister role focusing on Brexit, an issue which has only been suggested in recent days.

While Mr Varadkar has said he will not make major changes to cabinet, there are clear questions over the future of current Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, current Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O Connor, and others.

In addition, a series of junior ministers - including Regina Doherty, Helen McEntee, Dara Murphy and others - are vying to either remain in their roles or gain significant promotions.

Earlier: Leo Varadkar will be elected the youngest ever Taoiseach this afternoon when the Dáil meets.

He is expected to carry out a wide-ranging reshuffle with a number of new faces joining the Cabinet.

Mr Varadkar gas been Fine Gael leader for 12 days and later today he will take over as Taoiseach.

He will secure at least 58 votes in the Dáil and with Fianna Fáil abstaining that will guarantee him victory.

After traveling to Aras an Uachtaráin to collect his seal of office, Mr Varadkar will return to Government Buildings and reshuffle the Cabinet.

Latest: Leo Varadkar: My government will be neither left nor right, but of the centre

He has already appointed his defeated colleague in the leadership race as deputy leader and Simon Coveney is expected to move into the department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Many of the Fine Gael ministers are expected to move portfolios or be given additional responsibilities, like Paschal Donohoe, who will become Finance Minister.

Among those tipped for a call up to Cabinet are junior ministers Michael Ring and Eoghan Murphy, while chief whip Regina Doherty has been tipped to take charge of a department.

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