Who will become Ireland's next prime minister?

By Padraic Halpin

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Leo Varadkar said on Wednesday he would step down as Ireland's prime minister and the leader of the governing Fine Gael party, in a surprise move, citing "personal and political" reasons.

Varadkar said he had asked for a new leader of the party to be elected ahead of Fine Gael's annual conference on April 6, following which parliament would vote on that person succeeding him as prime minister after the Easter break.

Nobody has yet declared their intention to become the new leader, although Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney and Justice Minister Helen McEntee have ruled themselves out.

Here are details of the main potential contenders:


The bookmakers' favourite to succeed Varadkar, 37-year-old Higher Education Minister Simon Harris saw his profile rise significantly when he was the country's health minister during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Harris, who also served as a junior minister in the finance department from 2014 to 2016, would become the country's youngest prime minister if he is elected, surpassing Varadkar, who was 38 when he was first appointed in 2017.

Harris was elected a local councillor in his native county of Wicklow in 2009 and became a member of parliament two years later at the age of 24.


Donohoe has served in the dual role of government minister and chair of the group of euro zone finance ministers since 2020. He was re-elected to a second three-year term as Eurogroup president in January 2023.

The 49-year-old Dubliner has held one or other of Ireland's two budgetary roles for the last eight years, starting as public spending minister in 2016 before becoming finance minister a year later and returning to the expenditure brief alone in 2022.

Known for his prudent approach to the public finances, the politics and economics graduate spent 10 years working for consumer products maker Procter & Gamble in both Britain and Ireland before his election to the Irish parliament in 2011.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Graham Fahy; Editing by Toby Chopra and Alex Richardson)