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New Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar is set to be named Taoiseach today following his leadership victory over Simon Coveney. Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins
New Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar is set to be named Taoiseach today following his leadership victory over Simon Coveney. Pic: Gareth Chaney Collins
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Varadkar set to become Ireland's youngest Taoiseach today

LEO Varadkar is set to be named as Ireland's youngest ever Taoiseach at lunchtime today.

The 38-year-old replaces outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who retired after more than 40 years in politics yesterday.

Simon Coveney has been appointed as Fine Gael's deputy leader by the man who pipped him in the party's leadership contest, a move which almost certainly rules him out of being named Tánaiste when Mr Varadkar announces his cabinet this evening.

However, it has been described as a 'unifying step' for the party, which had been split during the hotly contested leadership battle.

Mr Coveney was announced as deputy leader before yesterday's parliamentary party meeting, describing himself as 'honoured' to take on the position.

It is expected that he will play an important role in establishing election strategy in the coming years.

Speaking after the meeting, Cork Senator Tim Lombard said the mood in the party was good.

"Simon's appointment was seen as a very positive step, a unifying one in the party."

Beyond that, Mr Lombard said that little else has been revealed.

"It is hard to know what is planned. Few people have any indication but Leo gave a precursor that he cannot accommodate everyone in the cabinet. He can only do what he can do.

"The challenge he has now is that expectations are very high and he has to manage these in the coming months."

The move almost certainly rules Mr Coveney out of becoming Tánaiste though, according to other members of the party.

Cork TD Dara Murphy said, "There has always been two positions.

Whenever Fine Gael had the two roles to fill, it was two different people.

"It is a matter for the Taoiseach now to bullet point who he wants where, but it is great to see the two that competed taking the leadership.

"It is important for Cork that the deputy leader is from Cork. He will have influence over the Taoiseach and that can only be good for the region."