Peter meets, Leo Varadkar.
Peter meets, Leo Varadkar, an Taoiseach.
Leo Varadkar TD was elected as Taoiseach, Minister for Defence and Leader of Fine Gael in June 2017. At 38, he is the youngest person to ever hold the office of Taoiseach.
In 2007, Leo was first elected to Dáil Éireann for the constituency of Dublin West. Between the 2007 and 2011, he served on the opposition Fine Gael frontbench as Spokesperson for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and later Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. After the formation of the Fine Gael/Labour Government in 2011, he was appointed to Cabinet as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, an office he held until 2014. Between 2014 and the 2016 General Election, he served as Minister for Health. After the formation of the Fine Gael/Independent Government in 2016, he was appointed Minister for Social Protection.
Leo first ran for public office in the 1999 Local Elections at the age of 20. He was unsuccessful then, but undeterred stood again in the 2004 Local Elections, when he secured the highest personal vote in Ireland and was elected to Fingal County Council.
Leo was born in January 1979. He grew up and lives in Dublin West, but has strong links with rural Ireland through his family. He is a medical doctor and GP by profession and a graduate of Trinity College Dublin. His mother is a nurse from Waterford, his father a doctor from India. He has two sisters (a nurse/midwife and a neurologist). He is interested in personal fitness, sport (rugby and Gaelic football), music, history and travel.
1. Do you have a favourite artist and what’s your favourite piece by them?
No specific one. I tend to prefer more modern art like Picasso, Dali, Warhol, Miro and Rousseau. My favourite art museum is MOMA in New York. It has so many great pieces.
2. What was the last exhibition you went to?
Vermeer exhibition in the National Gallery. Before that it was a Klimt one in Vienna.
3. What’s your favourite book?
Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie)
4. Who’s your icon?
I don’t really believe in icons. Everyone has their flaws.
5. I know you are an accomplished politician, but do you like to dabble in a bit of painting every now and then?
No. I usually use my free time to work out or go for a run. Otherwise it’s matches, concerts or just catching up with friends. I like travel too.
6. What influences you on a daily basis?
Many things - other people, what’s in the news, my agenda for the day and people I meet, e-mails etc., all work related!
7. What’s your favourite sound?
Don’t have a specific one but I do like music.
8. What has been the single most important event in your career so far?
There have been so many, each milestone paved the way for the next and were all very important at the time, so there is no single one that I would term as the most important.
9. What do you hope your contribution will bring to your community?
To make it better than it is now and to give everyone the opportunity to become the best that they can be.
10. What is the hope for your audience when they encounter your work?
My work in politics and as Taoiseach is met by many audiences, at home and internationally, and is so diverse that it I can't really answer this question in an insightful manner.
11. Who has been the most influential person to you and your work?
No single person.
12. If you could have dinner or a drink with someone, alive or dead who would it be?
Don’t know really. Maybe a dinner party with a few interesting guests would be more my style. I’d have to think about the guest list .....maybe Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad.
13. Do you think an artist needs to be tortured to create?
No. Some do. All don’t.
14. What was the first piece of art you bought?
I don’t recall. I think it might have been a painting by a local amateur artist at a local art exhibition.
15. Where’s your favourite space to get creative in?
Don’t have one.......wherever I get a space to myself to be alone with my thoughts without risk of interruption is the space to be creative.
16. What’s next for you?
Being Taoiseach. Not sure after that.
With thanks Leo, xx