Friday 22 September 2017

An unsteady start for Leo Varadkar - but he still has the making of a great leader

If the new Taoiseach plays to his strengths and has the courage of his convictions, he could achieve much, writes Dan O'Brien

Potential: Leo Varadkar’s articulacy and grasp of detail could in time give him greater
influence in Brussels at meetings with other European Union leaders. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney
Potential: Leo Varadkar’s articulacy and grasp of detail could in time give him greater influence in Brussels at meetings with other European Union leaders. Photo: Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

When a new leader takes office, there is always a sense of optimism that he or she can bring about change and betterment. That is all the more so in the case of a young leader.

Leo Varadkar's elevation to become this State's 14th head of Government brings both change and a sense of change. There are good reasons for that - he is different from his immediate predecessors in some ways and, in others, different from all other 13 leaders since independence.

Varadkar has a grasp of policy detail and an interest in the same that no Taoiseach has had since Garret FitzGerald. But unlike the Fine Gael Taoiseach in the 1980s, Varadkar is neither haughty nor prone to getting bogged down in detail. That could augur well for more hard thinking going into the making of policy across Government. It might also mean that ministers who underperform get prodded into upping their game more regularly and more rigorously than under the last Taoiseach.

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