Varadkar becomes Ireland's first openly gay prime minister

"I hope that in the two governments I have led that we have made a modest contribution towards that ambition", Mr Kenny said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday congratulated Leo Varadkar on becoming Ireland's Prime Minister and said he looked forward to working with him to enhance relations between the two countries.

They also discussed the ongoing political discussions in London and in Belfast, agreeing on the need to have the Northern Ireland Executive up and running as quickly as possible, and they discussed Brexit.

He signed the visitor's book and went into a brief private meeting with President Michael D Higgins before making his way to collect his seal of office.

European Council President Donald Tusk, tweeting words of congratulations in the Irish language, assured Varadkar that his fellow EU leaders shared a "great sensitivity" about the challenge the island of Ireland faces in the Brexit talks.

The new taoiseach is set to be Leo Varadkar, Ireland's first openly gay cabinet minister. "The government that I lead will not be one of left or right because those old divisions don't comprehend the political challenges of today", he stated.

Varadkar defeated rival Simon Coveney in a contest to replace Enda Kenny, who resigned last month.

Varadkar, a doctor educated at Trinity College Dublin, entered Irish politics in 2004, when he got nearly 5,000 votes in a local government election in the Dublin West constituency.

He is credited with steadily rebuilding the party across the country and after surviving a leadership heave in 2010 he led it to its best ever election result in early 2011.

In a press statement today, Prendergast said his election to taoiseach is a "major achievement for him both personally and professionally and we wish him well in the new role".

His predecessor, Enda Kenny, lauded the man he'd nominated as his replacement.

The veteran Fine Gael politician, who is the country's longest serving taoiseach, delivered a relatively short valedictory address to the Dail parliament.

Eoghan Murphy, who had a junior ministry in the Department of Finance and ran Mr Varadkar's leadership campaign, is one of those being touted for a promotion to the senior ranks.

  • Leroy Wright