Statement from Minister Varadkar on the retirement of Joan Burton as Labour Leader

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I want to pay tribute to Deputy Joan Burton on the announcement of her retirement as leader of the Labour Party, both as a constituency colleague, and with regard to her role as a former Minister for Social Protection.

I first met Joan when she was a member of Fingal County Council and will always be grateful for the pivotal role she played in standing against irresponsible rezoning, and for protecting our greenbelt, particularly the Liffey Valley.

Joan is a phenomenal constituency worker and built a Labour seat and presence in Dublin West from virtually nothing. In many ways, I learned from her example and her success when I was tasked with doing the same for Fine Gael in Dublin West after the wipeout of 2002.

I am personally grateful for the leadership role she played in securing equal rights and equal marriage for the LGBT community. She fought for equality in Ireland and against inequality in South Africa and around the world, not because it was popular but because she believed it.

Joan was a hard-working and reforming Minister in Social Protection and has passed on a Department transformed. She was a powerful advocate for social justice in the last Government. I am privileged now to have the opportunity to build on her work in my new role.

I wish Joan and Pat the very best for the future and am absolutely certain they will continue to play an active, valued and leading role in politics nationally and in Dublin West.


Last modified:10/05/2016