Irish leader Enda Kenny stepping down as head of his party

Michele Moreno
May 18, 2017

Mayo Fine Gael TD Michael Ring has said Enda Kenny's successor will have to show the same commitment and stamina that the Taoiseach did.

The front-runners to replace Mr Kenny as Fine Gael leader and subsequently as taoiseach are Leo Varadkar, Social Protection Minister, and Simon Coveney, Housing Minister.

"I would like to stress the huge honour and privilege that it has been for me to lead our party for the past 15 years, in opposition and into Government on two successive occasions", Mr Kenny said.

Mr Kenny initially revealed his plans to stand down a year ago, when he said he would not lead Fine Gael into the next general election.

Voters tired after several years of austerity turned to independents and protest parties in last year's election, leaving Kenny atop a fragile coalition.

He also noted Mr Kenny's contribution to job creation, his role in the marriage equality referendum and his encouragement of intergenerational change in Fine Gael.

Unsettled colleagues are banking on a new leader reviving their fortunes after falling marginally behind rivals Fianna Fail in most surveys. Fianna Fail agreed past year to abstain in key votes to let the minority government run until late 2018.

Both Coveney and Varadkar have served in Kenny's cabinet since 2011 and are unlikely to usher in major policy changes.

Deputy Heydon said that, under the Taoiseach, there had bee "the rebirth of a self-confident Ireland".

Questions will immediately turn to a successor and the country's next taoiseach alongside the analysis of Mr Kenny's legacy after leading the country out of a crippling recession, albeit with an agenda of austerity. I saw at close quarters how skilled and driven he was to succeed for our Party, in Government and for our Country.

Other reports by Insurance News

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