Taoiseach Enda Kenny to step down

Ruben Ruiz
May 22, 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May and former Prime Minister David Cameron led tributes to Kenny, who was first elected as a TD in 1975.

Nominations close on Saturday evening and with the contest appearing to be down to two men, four hustings have been planned for Dublin, Carlow, Ballinasloe and Cork over four nights from next Thursday.

While Noonan and Kenny have been widely praised for their management of the economy, their Fine Gael party lost a quarter of its seats at elections a year ago as voters complained they were not feeling the recovery.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny speaks to the media at the general election count centre in Castlebar, Ireland February 27, 2016.

Simon Coveney's support is stronger among older age groups while those younger age groups - described as pre family favour Leo Varadkar.

Mr Coveney dismissed the idea of cutting short the contest and said he has never lost an election.

"I made this decision some time ago and I'm confident that Leo Varadkar is the right person who can lead Fine Gael and Ireland into the next generation of politics".

The Social Protection Minister had been keeping tight-lipped on his plans but revealed he is "humbled" by the support he has received in the campaign so far.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny to step down

"But regardless of the challenges we faced, Enda Kenny took them on with humour, grace, and determination", he said.

Her predecessor David Cameron said Mr Kenny "was a strong leader for Ireland, a great partner for the United Kingdom, and remains a good friend".

Kenny was due to step down at midnight to become acting party leader until a successor is chosen.

The current housing minister has also been in charge of several portfolios including agriculture and defence.

Varadkar's rival Simon Coveney, 44, fits the more traditional profile of a Fine Gael leader.

Around 21,000 Fine Gael members will be entitled to vote with TDs and Senators accounting for 65 per cent of the vote, delegates 25 per cent and local councillors the remaining ten per cent share.

A new leader to be announced after an electoral college of the parliamentary party, county councillors and party members have their say.

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