In a surprise move, Leo Varadkar announced today, March 20, that he is resigning as Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael for both "personal and political" reasons.

Varadkar said during a public address that he has asked Fine Gael's party secretary and executive council "to provide for the new leader to be elected in advance of the Ard Fheis on Saturday, April 16, thus allowing a new Taoiseach to be elected when the Dáil resumes after the Easter break."

He added that he will "fulfill my duties as Taoiseach until a new one is elected and will remain as a constituency TD for Dublin West."

Varadkar's resignation has prompted reaction across the Irish political sphere, as well as in Northern Ireland and the US.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said on Wednesday that Varadkar informed him of his decision to resign on Tuesday evening.

"I fully respect what was a personal decision," Martin said in a statement before thanking Varadkar for his service and wishing him the best in the future.

He continued: “It is important to remember this is a three-party coalition. I remain fully committed to the continuation of Government. As I’ve always said, this Government has a mandate from the people that runs for another year.

“We have worked well as a Government and I look forward to working with the new leader - on fulfilling the Programme for Government and delivering for the people of Ireland. 

“The Government is based on issues and policy, not personalities. We have an important job to steer the economy, to improve public services, and to build more homes for people.

“From my perspective, and from Fianna Fáil’s perspective, we are going to fulfil our mandate. There is a lot of work to be done and that is our focus at this time.”

March 20, 2024: Tánaiste Micheál Martin speaks after Leo Varadkar announces his resignation. (

March 20, 2024: Tánaiste Micheál Martin speaks after Leo Varadkar announces his resignation. (

Eamon Ryan, the head of Ireland's Green Party which is in coalition with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, thanked Varadkar, who he described as "energetic" and "committed."

Ryan added: "It's worth noting that the agreement at the start of this Government was between the three coalition parties, not the three leaders.

"That agreement stands, particularly in light of the important work that this Government has to do.

"The Green Party looks forward to the the conclusion of the Fine Gael leadership contest and the election of a new Taoiseach by Dáil Éireann.

"In the interim, the important work of Government continues and the three coalition parties will continue to fulfil our mandate, just as we have done over the last three and a half years."

"I would like to offer my good wishes to Leo as he prepares to depart the Taoiseach's office."

"The important work of government continues, and the three coalition parties will continue to fulfil our mandate."

Full statement from Party Leader @EamonRyan

— Green Party Ireland (@greenparty_ie) March 20, 2024

Other Irish politicians, however, are calling for a general election in the wake of Varadkar's resignation.

"The decision of who now leads government as Taoiseach must be placed in the hands of the people, the decision of who is in government must be placed in the hands of the people, and today's announcement can only have one conclusion - the calling of a general election," TD Mary Lou McDonald, the head of Sinn Féin, said in the Dáil on Wednesday afternoon. 

The next Taoiseach should be chosen by the people, not by the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

There needs to be a General Election

It's time for change! #GeneralElectionNow

— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) March 20, 2024

TD Holly Cairns, head of the Social Democrats party, said that the Government is "failing on so many fronts" and that "we need an election."

The writing is on the wall for this government, even the Taoiseach can see that.

They’re failing on so many fronts. In housing, health, climate - the list goes on and on and on.

A new Fine Gael Taoiseach isn’t going to fix that. We need a new government. We need an election.

— Holly Cairns TD (@HollyCairnsTD) March 20, 2024

Ivana Bacik, head of Ireland's Labour Party, similarly said "the people, not Fine Gael, should decide who leads the country."

The people, not Fine Gael, should decide who leads the country.

It’s time for a General Election now.

— Ivana Bacik (@ivanabacik) March 20, 2024

In Northern Ireland, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, head of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), acknowledged that he and Varadkar "were very often on different ends of the political spectrum" but that "we were able to work together on matters of mutual benefit for both our countries."

— DUP (@duponline) March 20, 2024

Naomi Long, the head of the Alliance Party, said in part: "Northern Ireland and the south have a good relationship, more so than at any time in recent history, which is due in no small part to the work of Leo Varadkar and other members of the Irish Government."

.@naomi_long pays tribute to Leo Varadkar following resignation announcement.

See more here -

— Alliance Party (@allianceparty) March 20, 2024

Colum Eastwood, the head of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, said Varadkar has been a "relentless ally" and wished him and his partner Matthew Barrett "all the best for the future."

During the Brexit negotiations and in efforts to restore devolution in the North, @LeoVaradkar has been a relentless ally to people here as Taoiseach, investing time, energy and personal political capital.

Wish him and Matt all the best for the future and what comes next.

— Colum Eastwood (@columeastwood) March 20, 2024

In the US, where Varadkar visited last week, Congressman Richie Neal, the head of the Friends of Ireland Caucus, praised Varadkar for his commitment to the Good Friday Agreement.

2/ The Taoiseach was a frequent guest of the Congressional Friends of Ireland Caucus, and his briefings in America were essential. We are indeed grateful for his unwavering support of the Good Friday Agreement and the sanctity of the relationship between our two nations.

— Rep. Richard Neal (@RepRichardNeal) March 20, 2024