Leo Varadkar set to hold first meeting as Fine Gael leader

Leo Varadkar will hold his first parliamentary party meeting as Fine Gael leader this afternoon, writes Fiachra O'Cionnaith.

In the first major Government change in the post-Kenny era, the Cabinet has formally nominated Attorney General Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal.

The move - which will have to be ratified by President Michael D Higgins - brings to an end Ms Whelan's six-year term as the Government's chief legal expert.

Ms Whelan has been repeatedly embroiled in controversy due to a variety of Department of Justice and garda related scandals.

However, Mr Kenny stood by her both during this coalition and the previous Fine Gael-Labour government, indicating the move was sought by incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Independent Alliance TD and Transport Minister Shane Ross is likely to be criticised for supporting the promotion, as he has repeatedly emphasised the need for appointments to be on merit and not to be politically motivated.

Mr Varadkar, in his likely last act as Social Protection Minister, has also chosen to increase the back to school allowance by a significant 25%.

The move was one of his leadership election campaign promises, and had to be introduced before he left the ministry as otherwise he could be accused of forcing the next Social Protection Minister to implement the change.

Mr Varadkar, Ireland's first openly gay cabinet minister and the son of an Indian doctor, will be nominated as Taoiseach in the Dáil tomorrow before he travels to meet President Higgins in Áras an Uachtaráin, where he will be given his seal of office.


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