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Varadkar unaware of ‘any scandal that is about to break’

Outgoing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he understood the need for conspiracy theories following his surprise resignation announcement earlier this week, but he is not aware of “some sort of scandal that is about to break”.

Speaking at a European Council meeting in Brussels, he also said Cabinet reshuffles were one of the hardest parts of his job and he his not sure they can ever be done exactly right.

He said on the day you are elected Taoiseach, your family and friends are delighted for you.

However all he could think about on those days were the “awful set of meetings” where he would have to tell many people that there were being demoted or moved sideways.

He defended his own Cabinet choices, though, saying “I was blessed by the people I had around me. They were so good.”

Simon Harris is the front-runner to replace Leo Varadkar after Mr Varadkar announced earlier this week that he is stepping down as both Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach.

Last night, Mr Harris – who has already secured the support of a large portion of the Fine Gael parliamentary party – told RTÉ’s Six One News that he intended to run for both roles, saying he was “ready to step up and ready to serve”.

Given that Mr Harris looks firmly on track to become the next Taoiseach, Mr Varadkar was asked if he had any plans to recall the Dáil early during the Easter break to accelerate this process.

He said there were no plans to do so unless the other Government party leaders request it.

Next Taoiseach needs to speak to parties – Collins

The next Taoiseach will need to talk to other parties to get their support, according to the leader of one of Ireland’s newest political parties.

Michael Collins, who is leader of the Independent Ireland party, said on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that if so “he needs to sit down and talk to a party like Independent Ireland and others that he seeks that support from”.

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Independent Ireland currently has three TDs – Mr Collins, Limerick TD Richard O’Donoghue and Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

“We need a major change of Government policy. The disruptive green policies that are there at the moment will have to stop because they’re affecting people, especially in rural communities and especially farmers, agriculture and people that are doing business,” he said.

“But it’s not just rural issues that the new Taoiseach, incoming Taoiseach, most likely Simon Harris, will have to deal with.

“He has to look at the tourism business, where we have 280 restaurants and cafes after closing over the last couple of months.

He said that restoring the VAT rate from 9% to 13% for the hospitality sector “absolutely decimated small businesses like cafes”.

Mr Collins said that he and his party will never refuse to meet an incoming Taoiseach.

“Because we need to see a change of direction from this Government. As I said, agriculture and fisheries and issues like that have been completely neglected by the last government, and if they’re not going to be dealt with this Government, we cannot support this Taoiseach coming in.”

Mr Collins also said that there needs to be a change to immigration policy “because we can’t have people coming to this country that are living in tents”.

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