Saturday, 19 August, 2017

Ireland's political veteran Enda Kenny stepping down as party leader

Supporters carry a young Enda outside Leinster House on his first day in the Dáil in 1975 Supporters carry a young Enda outside Leinster House on his first day in the Dáil in 1975
Derrick Tucker | 20 May, 2017, 04:38

Nearly 21,000 party members will vote at 26 polling stations from Monday May 29 to Thursday June 1 and the parliamentary party which includes 73 TDs, senators and MEPs, will vote in Dublin on Friday June 2.

He also said he will not stand for reelection as a member of parliament.

Meanwhile, in Dublin, Leo Varadkar has made his first public appearance of the leadership campaign.

Once the winning candidate has been safely ratified, party bosses are expected to switch their focus to planning for the next general election.

With the current minority government set to run until the end of next year, Fine Gael hope either Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar, 38, or Housing Minister Simon Coveney, 44, will give them a boost ahead of the next election.

Kenny was due to step down at midnight to become acting party leader until a successor is chosen. With friends across the European Union in short supply, what then can be expected of Mr Kenny's potential successor when it comes to Brexit, especially the tricky issues of Northern Ireland's border with the rest of Ireland?

Earlier this week, the Irish Independent reported that if successful in the leadership contest, Varadkar will seek a special arrangement to keep Northern Ireland within the single market to ensure an "invisible" border between the north and the rest of Ireland.

He said it had been a "huge honor and privilege.to lead our party for the past 15 years, in opposition and into government on two successive occasions".

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Given that there are 73 members of the parliamentary party at present, each member represents 0.9 per cent of the total electorate.

There's a job vacancy in government this morning.

"But more importantly he brought this country back from the brink of economic collapse, and offered political stability when countries across Europe were staring into the abyss".

Under Fine Gael rules the parliamentary party commands 65 per cent of the votes, with councillors getting 10 per cent and the 21,000 members 25 per cent.

Micheal Martin, the Fianna Fáil leader, described his rival as decent.

"I would like to pay tribute to the Taoiseach for his dedication and service to his country and party over many, many years". He has worked diligently for his county, party and country over a long period of time.

The veteran politician's resignation follows more than six years at the head of government.

The announcement came a day after Kenny said he would quit, kicking off a succession contest that was confirmed as a race between two younger ministers after other potential candidates stepped aside and colleagues began to pick sides.

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