Kenny to start succession process ‘sooner rather than later’

Coveney says Kenny should attend first Brexit EU summit after article 50 triggered

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has said Enda Kenny should attend the first European summit following the March 29th triggering of article 50. Photograph: The Irish Times

Taoiseach Enda Kenny should attend the first European summit following the March 29th triggering of article 50 which will begin the formal process of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, Minister for Housing Simon Coveney has said.

Mr Coveney on Tuesday said that Mr Kenny wanted to be in place as Taoiseach for the European Council summit that would agree the framework for the Brexit negotiations.

An information note from the Government said it expects this summit to take place by the end of April or in early May.

Mr Coveney, one of the two front-runners to succeed Mr Kenny whenever he steps down, also said Fine Gael was “pretty content” Mr Kenny would put “a process in place sooner rather than later” for his successor to be elected.


Dublin MEP Brian Hayes earlier said the Easter period, with the Dáil due to rise for two weeks from April 13th, would be a good time to begin the process of leadership change.

Period of transition

Mr Hayes also suggested on RTÉ's Today with Seán O'Rourke programme there could be a period of transition where Mr Kenny remained on as Taoiseach while a new Fine Gael leader beded in, such as by talking to Fianna Fáil and Independent members of Government.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton, who has yet to rule himself out of the contest to succeed Mr Kenny, said such a prospect would have to be considered.

“I think the party will have to consider options like that as to whether they bring advantage,” he said.

“They wouldn’t be conventional, but I don’t close my mind to any possibilities.

“The important thing, I think, is that we achieve continuity without a disruption to the progress we’re making, but that … a new Government is formed that has a very clear sense of direction, and I think that’s the thing we need to get right.”

Mr Coveney said it was widely expected Mr Kenny would want to be present at the first European summit following the triggering of article 50.

“The vast majority of people that I have spoken expected that the Taoiseach would want to be at the first European leaders meeting after article 50 is triggered,” Mr Coveney said. “I think he has indicated he wants to do that and it is no surprise.

“I don’t think anything has changed fundamentally from before the St Patrick’s Day visit - apart from the fact it was a very good visit (to the US).”

“It was a very good week for the Taoiseach and a very good week for the country.”

“I think he will now follow through on his commitment to put in place a process by which we can manage a transition of leadership within both Government and Fine Gael.”

“We can do that in an orderly and professional manner.”

“I don’t think there is anyone in the party pushing that time agenda in the way that is unreasonable.”

‘Very comfortable’

“Let’s give the Taoiseach time and space to do what he said he was going to do. I am certainly very comfortable that that will happen.”

Mr Coveney said there was no need for dissent or acrimony over the leadership transition. He urged the party faithful to be patient with the Taoiseach.

“I think they will wait for him to put in place a process, like he said he would, so we can manage this in a way that is good for the Government in terms of stability through an important period and also good for the party.”

“I think people should show a little patience to allow that process to take its course.”

“The party trusts Enda Kenny to manage this - I think that process will be outlined sooner rather than later.”

“I don’t think there is any need for rancour or acrimony in the build-up to it.”

“There are lots of people who would like to get the process going sooner rather than later because there are headlines in that. It is people outside Fine Gael who want that.”

“The party is pretty content at the moment that Enda will put a process in place sooner rather than later. I think, to be honest, the party are pretty relaxed about what is happening at the moment.”