Ireland gets coalition government, Leo Varadkar to return as PM in 2022



Leo Varadkar, the outgoing prime minister of Ireland, will now be the deputy prime minister under a new coalition government from Saturday headed by Micheal Martin, and return as the prime minister in 2022 under the power-sharing arrangement.

Varadkar, 41, became a caretaker prime minister after no party won a majority in the February 8 election. The process of government formation was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Three parties have now agreed to form the coalition government.

They are Varadkar’s Fine Gael party, Martin’s Fianna Fail (both centrist) and the Green party. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, who have long been rivals since the Irish Civil War, are joining a coalition for the first time.

Martin will be the prime minister (Taoiseach) for two and a half years, and will be replaced by Varadkar for the remaining period of the parliament from December 2022, reports from Dublin said.

In London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “Congratulations to Ireland on forming a new Government and to Micheal MartinTD on becoming Taoiseach”.

“Ireland is our closest neighbour, good friend and ally on issues such as climate change, the global fight against Covid-19 and our shared values on human rights and democracy.”

Under the coalition agreement, the new government will implement the Green party’s demand to set a target of 7 per cent to cut carbon emissions every year.

Green party leader Eamon Ryan said: “There’s a sense of responsibility on us now because we do have a job to do. We have to go in and help work with our coalition partners in government in actually getting our country out of a really severe economic crisis”.

“People at home who are losing their jobs or maybe risk of that, they want a government to get up and stand up for them and get everyone back working.”

With a base in both Ireland and Northern Ireland (part of UK), Sinn Fein emerged as a major factor in the election, exploiting ennui in the country wracked by rising housing costs and the people not experiencing economic recovery in recent years, but is not part of the coalition.

Sinn Fein was known as the political wing of the Irish Republican Army that was responsible for violence and terrorism for years in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, until peace returned with the Good Friday agreement of 1998.

Sinn Fein seeks reunification of the island of Ireland, promising a referendum within five years. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail have the same objective in the long-term, but do not favour the referendum soon enough.

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