Ireland's Varadkar opens up commanding lead in race to succeed PM Kenny

May 22, 2017, 15:16
Ireland's Varadkar opens up commanding lead in race to succeed PM Kenny

SENATOR Kieran O'Donnell has become the latest local politician to back Leo Varadkar in the Fine Gael leadership race.

Coveney aimed a number of jibes at rival Leo Varadkar.

Mr Coveney promised to consider how post-Brexit Ireland should maintain its competitiveness in key areas like taxation and infrastructure, including appointing a minister for infrastructure.

Varadkar, who is Ireland's welfare minister, has won early support for his leadership bid from several senior Cabinet members and a majority of his parliamentary colleagues have publicly backed him.

The 38-year-old said: "I'm absolutely committed to politics".

Fine Gael MEP Seán Kelly has said the leadership contest is an exercise in democratic engagement.

SIMON COVENEY HAS said he will be actively trying to change the minds of Fine Gael TDs who have declared for Leo Varadkar in the party's leadership battle.

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The process for electing the next Leader of Fine Gael is defined in Rule 49 of the Fine Gael Constitution and Rules.

Mr Varadkar may seem an unlikely frontrunner in socially conservative Ireland.

"I'll be having conversations with Pat and Joe just like I've had with all of the other members of the parliamentary party and they'll make their choices and I'll respect those choices", Mr Coveney said. "It's started really well and I'm really humbled at the level of support I have received from my colleagues, [but] I'm not counting my chickens". That we will ensure every member of this party and ever public rep in this party will have there say.

"This process that we are going through its about two things, choosing the right person to lead our party and also given the circumstances we are now in its about choosing the right person to lead the country".

He told the Irish Times: "I want Ireland to be a country that rewards work and that rewards people who work hard, essentially, who want better lives for themselves, for their families, for their communities".

Over the past year, Mr Kenny led a minority government, which was propped up by an alliance of independent TDs and required the support of the opposition party - Fianna Fáil - to pass its budgets.

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