Varadkar's victory is 'a great step' for multicultural Ireland
The election of Leo Varadkar as Fine Gael leader represents "a great step for Ireland but an even greater thing for the world" in terms of multiculturalism and ethnic diversity.
Dr Moosajee Bhamjee (69), who was once Ireland's most high-profile non-Irish born politician, said he believed Mr Varadkar (38) could, both as Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach, deliver "a positive shock" in terms of modern Irish society.
Dr Bhamjee, a Clare-based doctor, was born in South Africa but his father hailed from India.
Mr Varadkar was born in Dublin to an Indian-born doctor and a Waterford-born mother.
"This is a great step for Ireland but an even greater thing for the world," Dr Bhamjee said.
"Ireland has come a long, long way in the past 15 or 20 years.
"When I was elected, some people couldn't pronounce my name correctly.
"There is incredible ethnic diversity now in Ireland in terms of food, clothing and even cultural attractions."
He pointed out that multiculturalism had spread from the main Irish cities of Dublin and Cork into even the far reaches of rural Ireland. Dr Bhamjee, who won a Dáil seat in Clare for Labour in 1992, said he hoped Mr Varadkar's election would deliver a message of hope to people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds looking to build new lives in Ireland.
"I think it will send a strong message about the type of country we have and the great opportunities that people can have here," he added.