Culture&Arts

Irish Prime Minister steps down as leader of ruling Fine Gael party

Irish Prime Minister steps down as leader of ruling Fine Gael party

The debates will be followed by four days of polling in 26 locations nationwide with the new leader confirmed on 2 June.

He has been under growing internal party pressure over his failure to secure a majority government in the general election in 2016 and his handling of a series of crises in the Irish police.

Mr Kenny made his announcement at a brief parliamentary party meeting where some supporters were said to have been visibly upset at his long-awaited plans for departure.

The Fine Gael leadership will be decided by an electoral college that gives the parliamentary party - TDs, Senators, and MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) - 65 percent of the vote.

Earlier on Friday the Waterford TD John Deasy, who is personally close to both candidates, came out in support of Mr Varadkar.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar is seen as one of the frontrunners to take over from Mr Kenny as leader of FG.

Kenny will remain as a party leader in acting capacity until his successor is elected.

In a statement announcing his retirement, he said it had been a "huge honour and privilege" to lead the party over the course of 15 years.




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

It's as there's been a groundswell of support in the west and northwest for Minister Leo Varadkar to succeed Enda Kenny.

Fine Gael party chairman Martin Heydon described Mr Kenny as a "compassionate, pragmatic and inclusive" leader.

"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".

"He understands, as he said last week, the unique circumstances of Donegal, cut off from the rest of the North for most of the last century by partition, and cut off geographically and in other ways from the rest of the State".

His departure has been long anticipated after the party returned to power past year in a fragile minority coalition, which is dependent on the support of the opposition party Fianna Fail.

The veteran politician, from Castlebar, Co Mayo, is to resign after 15 years at the helm of the party and more than six years at the head of government.


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