Culture&Arts

CONFIRMED: Enda Kenny will step down as Fine Gael Leader tonight

CONFIRMED: Enda Kenny will step down as Fine Gael Leader tonight

"But regardless of the challenges we faced, Enda Kenny took them on with humour, grace, and determination", he said.

The new party head is set to be announced on June 2.

Kenny has been prime minister of Ireland since 2011, and has led Fine Gael for the past 15 years. The latter alludes to Varadkar's plain-speaking manner, which supporters say could widen the party's appeal. "I have fought a lot of elections, and I have never lost", he told Clare FM. Some of these have yet to publicly declare their hand, however. I hold Simon in great esteem, but it's how I have seen Leo respond back to great need is why I'm supporting him.

The contest to succeed Kenny will start on Thursday, far earlier than expected. He described it as the most hard political decision of his life.

Mr Varadkar has an apparent strong lead over Mr Coveney, with the backing of Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan and Education Minister Richard Bruton among others.

Mr Donohoe's support is also significant, as he is one of the most influential members of the Cabinet and has been tipped as a potential minister for finance once Michael Noonan steps down after the leadership race.

While Mr Varadkar is expected to personally launch his bid on Saturday, Mr Coveney fired the opening salvo on the steps of his party headquarters and declared he was not going to engage in sound bites and glib put-downs. "But I know that the party, and the country, will always remember him and will always be grateful".

The contest is decided by an electoral college that gives the parliamentary party, made up of TDs, senators and MEPs, 65% of the vote.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny conceded defeat on 27 February following elections that saw the governing coalition punished by voters tired of austerity, leaving the eurozone country in political limbo with no clear victor.

"They're two excellent candidates, but I went for Varadkar".

"Leo was in Donegal for two days last week but he is no stranger to Donegal", said McHugh, who is Minister for the Diaspora and International Development. He is throwing his weight behind the Housing Minister.

"I want to assure people that throughout this internal process, I will continue to carry out my duties and responsibilities as Taoiseach in full", he said.


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