Mary Mitchell O’Connor Statement on Fine Gael Leadership

With Minister Varadkar in 2016 as we announced that the live register had dropped below 300,000 for the first time since the economic crash.

The last Government, Enda Kenny’s Government, did phenomenal work for this country. It pulled us back from the brink of calamity. It regained sovereignty for this Republic, ended once again the scourge of forced youth emigration and it acted on social issues that had been ignored, feared and disregarded by previous administrations.

Now we need to build on, march on and improve because significant challenges remain.

Challenges at home and abroad, economically and socially. We need new, renewed leadership to deal with these challenges. Leadership that is energetic and inspiring.

Leadership that can protect and promote our interests on the international stage, that can ensure we continue to guard the economic gains we have made in the last seven years and that has the vision to continue to transform Ireland into a modern, progressive European state.

I said yesterday that the upcoming contest needs to be about which candidate can provide us with a 21st century version of the Just Society.

I believe that person is Leo Varadkar.

He has proven he can lead, not just manage. He has proven he has the skill to communicate a vision to the public, the capacity to make bold decisions and the political courage to tell people what they need, not necessarily just what they want to hear.

He is man of integrity, of ability, of passion and of steel. He is a man who is guided by strong principles. That work should be rewarded, that opportunity should be equal and that big ideas are required to deal with big problems.

He is right person to lead this party, and more importantly, this country

From 2011 to today, Enda Kenny led governments that, to paraphrase Leo Varadkar, succeeded in keeping our flag flying.

Now it’s time for the next generation of leadership to not only keep that flag flying, but define what it is flying for.