Leo’s Achievements

Leo focuses on getting things done and making practical improvements to people’s lives. He managed the two biggest Government Departments in terms of budget (Social Protection & Health). He has dealt successfully with difficult industrial relations issues (transport strikes and threatened airport and nurses’ strikes) without ever giving in. He handled very sensitive and emotive issues in health with compassion.

He is a reforming Minister who has achieved a great deal in Government, including:

  • Providing free GP care to the under sixes and over 70s.
  • Introducing Paternity Benefit.
  • Launching a New Deal for the Self-Employed.
  • Producing Ireland’s first National Maternity Strategy.
  • Establishing free legal and financial advice for people in mortgage arrears with the Abhaile service.
  • Kicking off Ireland’s bid for the Rugby World Cup 2023.
  • Opening up more bus routes to competition.
  • Spearheading the hugely successful Gathering tourism initiative.
  • Boosting tourism with a special 9% VAT rate.
  • Ensured that the New Children’s Hospital secured planning permission and will be publicly owned and operated.

Leo has piloted 20 pieces of the legislation through the Oireachtas, including legislation to:

  • Provide the first increase in 8 years for carers, people with disabilities, widows, the blind, jobseekers, lone parents and people on illness benefit (800,000 people), as well as a €5 increase in the State Pension.
  • Improve road safety.
  • Give Shannon Airport its long-sought independence.
  • Regulate clamping.

Europe and Brexit

In these difficult times it is vital that Fine Gael has a leader who is passionate about Europe and advancing Ireland’s place in the world. A member of the Cabinet Committee on Brexit, he is up to date and fully involved in the Government’s work and strategy particularly when it comes to the Common Travel Area with the UK. This includes cross-border issues like employment rights, pensions and welfare.

He chaired the Council of Transport Ministers during the Irish Presidency and has represented Ireland on the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) since 2014.

Leo is a member of the World Economic Forum (organisers of Davos) Young Political Leaders in Europe. He is a former Vice-President of the Youth of the European Peoples’ Party and has attended several European People’s Party Congresses.

Northern Ireland

Leo has taken part in three North-South Ministerial Council formations for Tourism, Transport and Health. His counterparts have included politicians from the Democratic Unionist Party, the Ulster Unionist Party, Sinn Fein and the SDLP. They have included Arlene Foster, Simon Hamilton & Mark H Durkan. He is an alumnus of the Washington-Ireland Programme (WIP) which includes many prominent leaders in Northern Ireland.

Among the North-South projects he has been involved in are – the A5 (road from Dublin to Derry), tourism co-operation around the Giro d’Italia and Irish Open and initiating the all-island Rugby World Cup bid. Co-operation in health included the provision of new regional cancer and cardiology services for West Ulster, including Donegal, based in Derry.

Rural Ireland

Leo is a Dublin TD but has close family links with rural Ireland. His mother grew up on a farm in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, now farmed by his uncle. He understands how important rural Ireland is to the fabric of the country.

He has overseen and driven practical improvements for rural Ireland such as:

  • The Community Improvement Scheme (rural roads);
  • Better support and funding for rural GPs;
  • Major tourist initiatives like the Wild Atlantic Way which was aimed at bringing tourists out of the cities;
  • The Gathering tourism initiative to promote Ireland internationally;
  • Boosting tourism enterprises and securing thousands of rural jobs by winning the introduction a low 9% VAT rate for hospitality.

He reversed the cuts to Farm Assist & Fish Assist, increased places on the Rural Social Scheme and provided new social insurance benefits to farmers and other self-employed persons (paternity benefit, treatment benefit for optical and dental care and invalidity pension).


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