Kenny promises ‘orderly transition’ to next FG leader

Succession contest expected to begin after May bank holiday weekend

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting he would not leave a leadership vacuum. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting he would not leave a leadership vacuum. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Enda Kenny has promised there will be an “orderly transition” to the next Fine Gael leader, with the contest to succeed him now expected to begin after the May bank holiday weekend.

Regarding his plans to stand down as party leader, Mr Kenny also told the weekly meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Wednesday night he knew what he was going to do.

The Taoiseach said he wanted the party to remain united and said he was not staying on at the help of Fine Gael just for the sake of power.

He said he would not leave a leadership vacuum, taken by TDs to mean a lengthy period with uncertainty hanging over the leadership.

Last month, Mr Kenny told his TDs and Senators he would deal with his leadership of Fine Gael “effectively and conclusively” upon his return from the United States following his St Patrick’s Day visit.

Last night marked the first party meeting since St Patrick’s Day, and it was initially flagged by Mr Kenny’s supporters that he would not be making any comment on his leadership this week.

Some TDs had planned to ask Mr Kenny about his intentions, but he addressed his leadership at the outset of the meeting.

Brexit talks

He told his TDs and Senators he was staying in office to see the establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive and the beginning of the Brexit negotiations.

Mr Kenny also said he hoped there would be a deal in Northern Ireland between Sinn Féin and the DUP next week.

He said he would deal with the issue of his leadership after the European Council summit on April 29th, which will set the parameters of the Brexit negotiations.

That was taken as an indication that the three-week contest to succeed him will begin after the May bank-holiday weekend, a time frame expected by the camps of the two leadership front-runners: Minister for Housing Simon Coveney and Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar.

Kildare South TD Martin Heydon, the chairman of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, said Mr Kenny told the meeting it was important to get the “foundations” of the Northern Ireland executive and the Brexit negotiations right.

“In relation to Brexit, he said it was a political challenge that may or may not have agreement on the negotiating guidelines on April 29th.

“He said he would not be allowing any period of uncertainty and there would be an orderly transition in respect of the leadership.”

TDs and Senators also gave Mr Kenny a round of applause for his performance in the US, and was congratulated by Senators Paul Coghlan, Paudie Coffey and Ray Butler.