Donegal's Minister pays tribute to Taoiseach Kenny

May 20, 2017, 00:42

The announcement came a day after Kenny said he would quit, kicking off a succession contest that was confirmed as a race between two younger ministers after other potential candidates stepped aside and colleagues began to pick sides.

Deputy Fitzpatrick has said that he would be backing the current Housing Minister to succeed Enda Kenny as party leader and Taoiseach, describing him on local radio as "the whole package".

Simon Coveney is in Clare today for a number of engagements including the Clare Fine Gael AGM, but his visit here comes as he faces an uphill battle to defeat Leo Varadkar.

Earlier on Friday Fine Gael leadership challenger Simon Coveney admitted that the momentum is with Mr Varadkar but rejected any suggestion of conceding.

"I will continue to carry out my duties as party leader in an acting capacity until my successor is elected", the 66-year-old said.

In another significant development that further signalled generational change within Fine Gael, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan announced he would not seek a place in the next cabinet and would not stand at the next election.

Since he was first elected as TD, his career as Fine Gael leader has been a series of ups and downs.

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"I want to lead a party and a country that can heal numerous divisions that have opened up over the last decade or so".

Unsettled colleagues are banking on a new leader reviving their fortunes after falling marginally behind rivals Fianna Fail in most surveys. So who would you vote for between Coveney and Varadkar?

He told his party he would remain as leader for a "brief but appropriate period" to facilitate a leadership contest.

"Whoever takes over from Enda Kenny will be the person who has to protect Irish interests during the very delicate Brexit negotiations". No one deserves it more.

He is the first Fine Gael leader to win re-election to office. "I have chose to implement that decision today", Kenny said in a statement.

This is important as the 73 TDs, senators and MEPs who are members of the parliamentary party have a 65% share of the overall vote with party members having 25% and councillors 10%.