FG leadership contest: McFadden backs Coveney, Burke supports Varadkar

Posted May 19, 2017

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to step down as leader of his Fine Gael party tonight, clearing the way for the Republic Ireland to have a new head of government.

Kenny's successor as party leader is set to be elected by June 2 and Noonan may still oversee the flotation of Allied Irish Banks, which he said could happen in the coming weeks, another landmark in the banking sector recovery.

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"The new leader of Fine Gael will be market-friendly".

Kenny is due to visit the USA and Belgium early next month in his final trips as Ireland's Taoiseach, or prime minister.

Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar described him as an "extraordinary Taoiseach and Fine Gael's most successful leader ever".

He had previously said he wouldn't lead the party into the.

Along with Paul Kehoe TD this morning, the declaration from the two experienced ministers ensures that Mr Varadkar continues to rack up a lead - despite not having formally said he will run.

"I will be supporting Coveney", he said.

Leadership frontrunners Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar agreed to refrain from visible canvassing of support yesterday to allow Mr Kenny his moment. Kenny was recently under pressure from party members dissatisfied with his leadership.

"Simon Coveney has been a great minister and he will continue to be, but I'm opting for Leo Varadkar".

Two candidates have so far declared an interest in becoming the next party leader and, by default, the next prime minister for the remainder of what is widely considered to be a fragile, minority government.

"I hope he has a long and happy retirement after what he has done for the country over the last number of years".

Spokespeople for Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Education Minister Richard Bruton last night declined to say if they would be joining the race.

He criticised the Government's record on Northern Ireland and other matters.

"Pitting different sections of our society against each other is something that has been popular in the United Kingdom since the days of Margaret Thatcher, but it is mercifully something we have avoided in this country", said Willie O'Dea, a spokesman for Fianna Fail, the nation's largest opposition party.