Enda Kenny says he will run in the next general election

Question mark remains over how long the Taoiseach will remain as leader of Fine Gael

The Taoiseach met with his constituency colleagues on Sunday evening and insisted he would be standing for election again. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

The Taoiseach met with his constituency colleagues on Sunday evening and insisted he would be standing for election again. Photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he will run in the next general election, despite confirming he will not lead Fine Gael in such circumstances.

The Taoiseach met with his constituency colleagues in Co Mayo on Sunday evening and insisted he would be standing again.

Yesterday Fine Gael TDs said the announcement was no big surprise to them but insisted Mr Kenny must outline his departure date.

One TD told The Irish Times it was a “Shawshank Redemption scenario” where Mr Kenny had become “ institutionalised” and “could not cut it on the outside”.

“He doesn’t know how to cope without it. He has been here for decades. But I think it is widely accepted that he will not stand again, despite what he says.”

Another said: “He has a right to stand in the next election and I don’t think it comes as any great surprise to any of us that he would say he is standing again.

Appetite

“But there is still an appetite for him to announce when is stepping off the pitch as leader. He can stay for as long as he wants but he needs to tell us when he is standing down as leader.”

Mr Kenny’s leadership has come under scrutiny since a disappointing general election for Fine Gael in February.

Many of his backbench TDs have called on the Taoiseach to stand aside as leader or, at the very least, outline his departure date.

The Taoiseach has stressed he has a number of things he wishes to achieve before standing aside as leader of the party.

His public detractors have been limited to a number of backbench TDs including Kerry TD Brendan Griffin, Waterford TD John Deasy, and Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd.

‘Kicking and screaming’

Others, including Cork South-West TD Jim Daly and Carlow-Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan, have stressed the need for him to tell the party when he is going to leave.

Many within the party say the issue will be raised again as early as November.

One TD said: “John Deasy is right. He will be dragged kicking and screaming out of the place.

“If he had his way he would never leave. Most people have kept quiet to allow the Budget pass. But once it is over the line, it will become an issue for everyone going.”

Another added: “There is a break in October and then it will become an issue all over again.”

Mr Kenny was first elected as a TD in 1975 and has been leader of Fine Gael since 2002.

There has been some speculation that Mr Kenny’s daughter Aoibheann would stand in Co Mayo, if he stands aside. She is still a student in Trinity College Dublin.

Mr Kenny has always stressed he would not lead Fine Gael into the next election but this is the first time he has said he would stand for re-election.