Noonan to relinquish Finance role and retire at next election

20 May, 2017, 06:31 | Author: Oscar Goodwin

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

He told his party he would remain as leader for a "brief but appropriate period" to facilitate a leadership contest. It said 13 backed Coveney.

Mr Varadkar is expected to formally launch his campaign for the Fine Gael leadership on Saturday.

"Leo was in Donegal for two days last week but he is no stranger to Donegal", said McHugh, who is Minister for the Diaspora and International Development.

Mr Varadkar has an apparent strong lead over Mr Coveney, with the backing of Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan and Education Minister Richard Bruton among others.

The Leader has since learned organisers have provisionally set their sights on June 9, the week after a new Fine Gael leader is expected to be ushered in.

"It is time for a change in Fine Gael but there is no doubt that Enda Kenny brought stability, positivity, and energy to this country when we needed it most and I thank him sincerely for his time and service".

He said: "There are many crowning achievements that Leo Varadkar can be proud of from his ministerial roles".

Mr Varadkar, a doctor from Dublin and the favourite for the job, is Ireland's first openly gay member of cabinet.

"He's been an MEP, he's been Minister for Agriculture, he's an excellent negotiator who had negotiated for Ireland in Europe in the past, and I think that's what we need".

"I've met both candidates on a number of occasions and I'd be happy with either one as party leader".

Local councillor Maria Doyle is also supporting the 38-year-old for the party leadership.

Candidates have been warned to sign up to code of conduct to govern their behaviour in the campaign and they are also obliged to abide by data protection rules governing the use of membership details.

Kenny, dismissed as a political lightweight before leading his party to its best ever election result in 2011, built up a close rapport with fellow European Union leaders alongside Finance Minister Michael Noonan, who a number of Fine Gael lawmakers expect will also stand down following the leadership contest.

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