Leo was appointed Minister for Social Protection in April 2016
Key priorities for Leo and the new Government include activation, so that more people on welfare are assisted to move into the workforce or education, a new deal for the self-employed, a move towards a more European social insurance system with greater benefits for contributors, progress towards a universal pension scheme, reducing poverty and disadvantage in urban and rural Ireland, the development of a working family payment, and improving the financial support provided to pensioners, carers, and people with disabilities, among others.
He was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 2007 representing Dublin West and was re-elected twice.
As Minister for Health (2014-16) he secured a €1bn increase in the health budget, introduced free GP care for all children under six and seniors aged 70 and over, published Ireland’s first ever National Maternity Strategy and secured funding and planning permission for Ireland’s new National Children’s Hospital. A strong advocate of the Government’s Healthy Ireland plan to improve Ireland’s health as a nation, he introduced Ireland’s first public health legislation to regulate alcohol pricing, availability and marketing.
He led a number of initiatives as Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport (2011-14) including The Gathering: the largest and most successful tourism initiative ever held in Ireland. He took the decision to link up Dublin’s heavy and light rail commuter network through the Luas Cross City project; opened up more bus routes to competition; restarted development at the National Sport Campus; and gave independence to Shannon Airport. He also developed a new Road Safety Strategy and a National Ports Policy.
In his time as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, the number of international visitors to Ireland increased by one million per annum, while passenger numbers increased through the three State airports and on public transport.
Born in 1979 and raised in the Blanchardstown/Castleknock area of west Dublin, Leo attended St Francis Xavier National School and The King’s Hospital, before studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin and qualifying as a General Practitioner. He is a former member and Deputy Mayor of Fingal County Council, securing the largest personal vote in Ireland in the 2004 local elections. He chaired the EU Council of Transport Ministers during the Irish Presidency of the European Union in 2013 and served on the Foundation Board of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Leo likes watching rugby and Gaelic football, is a Dublin and Leinster fan and a fitness enthusiast. He likes to travel, attend concerts and go to the cinema and theatre.
Equality of opportunity, Enterprise and Reward, fiscal prudence, compassion and fairness are central pillars of my political principles. I believe that a competently run economy with sustainable public finances is the best way to ensure that we can permanently care for the more vulnerable in society. Jobs, education, home ownership and financial independence are the key to getting people permanently out of poverty. I am committed to working with local and national government to grow jobs in our community particular by reducing the cost in the SME sector.