Enda Kenny refuses to rule out leading FG into next election

Taoiseach says he does not expect a general election to take place for three years

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he and his government will address 'homelessness and issues affecting the daily lives of all our citizens' during his annual Christmas address. Video: Merrion Street

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has refused to rule out the possibility of leading Fine Gael into a third general election, raising fresh speculation that he may reverse his decision to voluntarily step down.

He has also said he does not expect the next election to take place for three years or during 2019.

In a round of pre-Christmas media interviews, the Taoiseach was asked repeatedly to rule out the possibility of staying on as leader for the next election but refused to engage with the question, saying he had other priorities besides elections.

When pressed, he said: “I’m not even contemplating an election, there won’t be one for three years. I’m genuinely focused on the challenge up ahead. I’ve answered these questions before.


“We have a really challenging period up ahead and I intend on working with my colleagues in Government and all the parties in the Oireachtas in the context of Brexit, best outcome for Ireland, relations with the Northern Ireland peace process, UK and so on.”

Mr Kenny also told reporters that the possibility of a terrorist attack on Ireland similar to the Berlin atrocity this week was small, but he qualified it by saying “you can never rule anything out”.

He said he had written to German chancellor Angela Merkel in the wake of the attack “and sympathised with her in respect of the 12 people and those who’ve been injured”.

Terror threat

Aspect about the specific threat to Ireland, he added: “Well, I can assure you that both the gardaí and Defence Forces’ security personnel are always vigilant in respect of this country.”

He pointed out that much larger security operations in larger countries had not succeeded in preventing such attacks from occurring.

“You can never rule anything out, but we like to think that in this country people are vigilant, that we’re careful and we will do everything we can to protect our citizens.

“We are very careful in the alertness of our security forces, gardaí and Defence Forces, who make every effort possible to see that we are protected and that lives are protected in that regard.”

Mr Kenny also said he disagreed with comments that Muslim imams should be required to preach in English in Irish mosques in order to integrate more fully with society.

“We have freedom of religion and religious practices here and I don’t agree with the comment made there.

“Obviously, we respect the right of every religion to preach to its own followers and we expected that preaching to be in accordance with peaceful means and the religious beliefs that people have.”

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times