Varadkar supporters disown backbench calls for Taoiseach to resign

Dublin TD Noel Rock says Enda Kenny must set out a timeframe for his departure

Dublin North-West TD Noel Rock has said he would like to see Leo Varadkar take over as party leader. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Dublin North-West TD Noel Rock has said he would like to see Leo Varadkar take over as party leader. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Comments by a Fine Gael backbencher who called on Enda Kenny to outline a timeframe for his resignation have been disowned by supporters of Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar.

Dublin North-West TD Noel Rock told RTÉ News on Monday he believes it is time for Mr Kenny to outline when he will step down as party leader and Taoiseach.

Mr Rock he would like to see Mr Varadkar take over as Fine Gael leader. Prominent supporters of the Minister for Social Protection, however, on Monday sought to disassociate Mr Varadkar from Mr Rock’s statement.

“Rock was not sent out by Leo or anyone close to him,” said a Minister close to Mr Varadkar.

Mr Rock himself tweeted: “I never represented I was ‘sent out’ by anyone. I gave an on-the-record quote and was asked to give an on-the-record interview. My views.”

The issue of Mr Kenny’s leadership is again coming into sharp focus among Fine Gael TDs, with a growing acceptance that he will have to step down soon.

Many TDs believe the current justice crisis shows how close the party could be to a general election. Mr Kenny has already said he will not lead the party into another election and the justice controversy has brought the prospect of an election into sharp focus.

A senior Minister on Monday said Mr Kenny may not even to be able to make it as far as the White House visit during St Patrick’s week without giving an indication of when he will stand aside.

Others, however, maintain any such decisions can wait until after Mr Kenny visits president Donald Trump in Washington – but probably no longer.

“The cleanest way for it to be done would be if he did it himself,” said the Minister. “That has always been the preference and the way the party would like.”