Irish PM Kenny steps down as party leader

May 22, 2017, 15:22
Irish PM Kenny steps down as party leader

After meeting party lawmakers, Kenny said he will step down at midnight, remaining interim party leader until a successor is elected by June 2.

"On behalf of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, I would like to thank Enda Kenny for his remarkable service to our country and our Party".

The Fine Gael leadership contest will begin on Thursday, with nominations closing on Saturday.

A number of politicians, including the departing Finance Minister Micheal Noonan, have not yet said who they will back.

Kenny steps down amid questions about his role in a scandal involving the nation's police and efforts to publicly smear a whistle-blower who made allegations of official corruption.

The 66-year-old former teacher, born in Mayo, is the longest-serving member of the Irish parliament, having first been elected in 1975.

David Cameron took to Twitter to pay tribute, posting: "Enda Kenny TD was a strong leader for Ireland, a great partner for the United Kingdom, and remains a good friend".

Speaking on Clare FM's Morning Focus in advance of his visit to Ennis today, Minister Coveney says he's the right man for the county and the country.

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The Fine Gael government is propped up by their historic rivals Fianna Fail in a confidence and supply agreement.

Mr Coveney, who won new support on Friday with the backing of the Galway West TD Hildegarde Naughton and the Dún Laoghaire TD Sean Barrett, said he is not panicked by the numbers declaring for Mr Varadkar and believes he will win the contest.

"I believe our party, with Leo Varadkar as leader, will attract a stronger vote in the higher population areas".

"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.

The social protection minister was a doctor before winning a seat in 2007 and has rapidly risen through the ranks, holding several ministerial portfolios.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny speaks at a press conference after the European Union summit at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, capital of Belgium on December 9, 2011.

Donegal Junior Minister Jo McHugh has declared he will be supporting Leo Varadkar in the race for leadership of Fine Gael.