Ireland to get new leader as Enda Kenny steps down

Image Sam Boal

Minister Joe McHugh has paid tribute to Taoiseach Enda Kenny who has announced he is stepping down as the leader of Fine Gael as of midnight tonight.

Mr Kenny delayed the transition to a new leader on a number of occasions this year, asking colleagues for time to visit the USA for the annual St Patrick's Day celebrations and to meet President Donald Trump, continuing the unique tradition Ireland has of access to the White House every March 17.

"I will continue to carry out my duties as Party Leader in an acting capacity, until my successor is elected".

Mr Kenny revealed his decision to stand down at a private meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party and after delaying the announcement for several months.

Unsettled colleagues are banking on a new leader reviving their fortunes after falling marginally behind rivals Fianna Fail in most surveys. The latter alludes to Varadkar's plain-speaking manner, which supporters say could widen the party's appeal.

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National broadcaster RTE said last week that of those in the parliamentary party who had confidentially declared their support - around half - 23 favored Varadkar, the son of an Indian immigrant who is Ireland's first openly gay minister.

The rank-and-file members of the party have 25% and councillors 10%.

Kenny is due to visit the US and Belgium early next month in his final trips as Ireland's Taoiseach, or prime minister.

Statement by Simon Coveney T.D., Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government on Party Leader, Enda Kenny T.D. I saw at close quarters how skilled and driven he was to succeed for our Party, in Government and for our Country.

"Enda Kenny will be remembered as the Taoiseach (prime minister) of the government that brought the country back from the brink".

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