Paschal Donohoe defends Taoiseach’s leadership

Ex-Fine Gael minister Ivan Yates claims Kenny is now part of the country’s problem

The Taoiseach’s leadership in the wake of the Irish Water debacle has been defended by Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe.

He was responding to comments made by former Fine Gael minister Ivan Yates who said Mr Kenny had become part of the country's problem rather than part of the solution.

"I could not see a leader who is further out of the bunker than the Taoiseach," Mr Donohoe told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

He said Mr Kenny’s leadership was largely behind why the Government had delivered tax cuts in the budget, a lower VAT rate and the lowest unemployment figure since 2009.

The Taoiseach had acted decisively to address the problems surrounding Irish Water and medical cards, he claimed.

“The Taoiseach has come out and acknowledged that. He has come out very clearly when required, when needed, to say yes that there are things that he acknowledges need to be done differently.”

“He has fixed them,” Mr Donohoe added.

“I am privileged to be a member of the Cabinet. I’ve seen the Taoiseach’s openness to diverse views every day. I see the extraordinary work-rate and effort that he puts into leading our Cabinet and our Government.”

Recognising that the Coalition was too quick to introduce water charges, Mr Donohoe said: “I have acknowledged and will do so again that too much was done too quickly in relation to that.”

Going on to say that Mr Kenny was “instrumental” in resolving some of the issues surrounding Irish Water, Mr Donohoe said: “If you look at the package that was brought out in relation to that.

“To give certainty and clarity to what the costs will be, to put measures in place to make sure they will be affordable, the Taoiseach has been instrumental.”

Mr Donohoe’s comments came after differences within Fine Gael were reported this week over the timing of the next general election.

Moving to quell the speculation, Mr Kenny told his party’s weekly parliamentary meeting that there will be no election next year, adding that the Coalition will see out its full term of office.