FG TDs expect leadership contest by end of year to stop ‘drift’

General sense Enda Kenny should resign or indicate intentions after October budget

Dublin Fingal TD Alan Farrell:  said the Taoiseach had made it clear he would not lead the party into the next general election. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Dublin Fingal TD Alan Farrell: said the Taoiseach had made it clear he would not lead the party into the next general election. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

There are mixed views among Fine Gael TDs on Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s leadership of the party, with some saying the issue must be addressed sooner rather than later and others describing the latest controversy as a distraction.

There is a belief among those who say Mr Kenny should stand aside that he should either resign or give a firm indication of his intentions after the October budget. Speaking privately, many anticipate Mr Kenny will have a leadership contest by the end of the year.

Numerous TDs stressed they did not want a heave or to force the Taoiseach out, but favoured an orderly exit.

Many of those who spoke out publicly are seen in Fine Gael as critics of the Taoiseach. Wexford TD Michael D’Arcy said the Taoiseach needed to clarify what his intentions are and said the party was “drifting”. Speculation over the leadership is distracting, he said. “We need to know what his plan is, when he intends to stand down and when a leadership contest can be facilitated,” said Mr D’Arcy.

Conversation hastened

Alan Farrell

Longford-Westmeath TD Peter Burke said the last thing the party needed was a general election as a result of a leadership change, adding that cool heads were needed in light of the recent Brexit referendum result.

“It is very important that we have as much stability as possible,” he said. “The last thing the party needs is a divisive contest and the last thing the country wants or needs is an election.”

Mr Burke said he also hoped the breach of Cabinet collective responsibility on Mick Wallace’s fatal foetal abnormalities Bill was a “once-off”.

Carlow/Kilkenny TD Pat Deering said he believed the Taoiseach should have been firmer with the Independent Alliance on the issue. He said a dangerous precedent had been set and Cabinet collective responsibility should have been enforced by Mr Kenny.

Dún Laoghaire’s Maria Bailey said the questions around the leadership were a “distraction” and Mr Kenny was someone who led a team with vision and was a successful manager. She said two hours of the parliamentary party meeting this week were taken up with policy and 10 minutes were spent on the leadership and other issues.

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Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Kildare North’s Bernard Durkan said it was of “no benefit” to be talking about party leadership at this time, and that it was hugely important that the programme for government was implemented.