First WIP Alumnus elected Taoiseach

The Chair of the Washington Ireland Program (WIP), Jim Carroll welcomed the election of WIP Alumnus, Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach today:

“We are delighted for Leo on this historic day. We are very proud of his achievements and congratulate him on his election as Ireland’s youngest Taoiseach. We greatly look forward to welcoming him in Washington DC as Taoiseach in the months ahead.

“WIP’s mission is to inspire and develop young leaders from all communities and perspectives, committed to building a future of peace and prosperity for Northern Ireland and Ireland. Leo exemplifies that diversity and the commitment to public service. These are uncertain and challenging times, but he has our full confidence and best wishes as he takes on this important role.”

Leo Varadkar participated in the WIP Class of 2000, where he worked in the office of Congressman Jack Quinn and was hosted by Kathleen Barger of Alexandria VA.  He was 20 at the time and in his third year of a Medicine degree at Trinity College Dublin.

Leo was one of the first students from the Irish Republic to participate in WIP, with the program initially solely focused on students from Northern Ireland. Leo later reflected on the experience:
“I think there is going to be an ongoing need for take young leaders from North and South to work together, and WIP is the only program that I know that really does that.”

Former Congressman Quinn remembers Leo fondly as “an ambitious young man who was bound for success in a lot of different ways”.
While Leo has spoken of the benefit of the practical experience he gained, Congressman Quinn noted that “I hope the experience was helpful but he gave us more than we gave him”.

In his opening remarks as Taoiseach to the Dail, the Irish Parliament, Leo reflected a core value of WIP – “I have been elected to lead. But, I promise to serve.”

Leo Varadkar
WIP Class of 2000
Work Placement: Congressman Jack Quinn
Host Family : Kathleen Barger of Alexandria VA.