Kenny holds on as Bruton coup defeated

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has retained the leadership of his party, fending off a disastrous power grab by the party’s former Finance spokesperson, Richard Bruton.

A meeting of the FIne Gael parliamentary party ended in a crushing defeat this afternoon for Bruton and his band of followers, which included most of the party’s front bench.

After sacking Bruton on Monday, Kenny seized the initiative from his opponents on Tuesday by quickly ending a meeting of his shadow cabinet by announcing a reshuffle.

Kenny loyalists believed he held the upper hand in the 70-strong Fine Gael parliamentary party, and this afternoon he won a confidence vote by an undisclosed margi - believed to be less than ten votes.

His opponents included most of the party’s prominent politicians and most are likely to be demoted to the back benches next week.

Speaking outside Leinster House, Mr Kenny said the meeting was “very constructive, very well meaning” adding he was “thrilled and very relieved” the motion of confidence was endorsed by his parliamentary party.

Reacting to the vote, Mr Bruton said the decision of the party had to be respected, adding issues had arisen but had been “resolved”. Mr Bruton urged his supporters to unite behind the party and denied he had been humiliated.

As the party attempted to close ranks today, the biggest winners of the power struggle were the other 26 County parties, particularly the Labour party, which was recently confirmed to be the largest opposition party in the south.

Speaking after the meeting, Fine Gael members insisted Kenny had not been permanently damaged by the level of opposition from within his won party.

Party chairman Padraic McCormack claimed that the turmoil had “damaged the party in the short term” but said the task now was to get the party back to where it was and focus on getting Fianna Fail out of government.

He said that he considered the vote of confidence to be the end of the leadership issue.


The chaos within Fine Gael overshadowed a no-confidence motion in the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen earlier this week.

Speaking on Tuesday, during the Dail debate, Sinn Fein Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said it “should have been the day when the spotlight was solely on an appalling Fianna Fail Government which has been exposed as the principal cause of the recession in Ireland.

“It is a grossly incompetent Government.

“But we have a situation where the pressure has been taken off one set of incompetents - Fianna Fail - by the political ineptitude of another set of incompetents - Fine Gael.

“The Irish people now know all too well where the political leadership of Fianna Fail has brought this State and this economy. But where would the political leadership of Fine Gael bring us? With the Fianna Fail government on the ropes, Fine Gael has managed to deliver a knockout punch - to themselves.

“We have no confidence in either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael.”

The vote of confidence in Cowen was won by Fianna Fail by 82 votes to 77, with the backing of the Green Party and Independents Jackie Healy-Rae and Michael Lowry.

* The following are believed to be among the members of the FG parliamentary party who opposed Enda Kenny as Fine Gael leader: Michael Creed; Simon Coveney; Joe McHugh; Richard Bruton; Olivia Mitchell; Lucinda Creighton; Brian Hayes; Leo Varadkar; Ulick Burke; Olwyn Enright; Michael Noonan; Fergus O’Dowd; Damien English; Denis Naughten; Tom Hayes; John Deasy; Michael D’Arcy; Billy Timmins; Andrew Doyle; Paul Bradford; John Paul Phelan; Eugene Regan; Nicky McFadden, Jim O’Keeffe; Pat Breen; and Paschal Donohoe.

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