Enda Kenny quits as leader of Fine Gael


Enda Kenny has announced that he will step down as leader of the Fine Gael Party, effective at midnight, but will continue to fill the position of Taoiseach until June.

In a statement, Kenny said:

“Last year I indicated that I would not lead the Fine Gael Party into the next General Election. I have decided to implement that decision from today. Therefore I will retire as Leader of Fine Gael effective from midnight tonight 17th May 2017.

“I will continue to carry out my duties as Part Leader in an acting capacity, until my successor is elected through the Fine Gael Leadership Election process.

“I have asked that the Fine Gael Executive Council expedite this process and to have it concluded by close of business on Friday 2nd June.”

His move averts a heave by senior Fine Gael ministers amid increasing concern over the paralysis in the administration he cobbled together with the support of Fianna Fail following the general election in May 2016.

The move had been widely telegraphed last month amid an overt political and media campaign to burnish his reputation, particularly in regard to a self-styled ‘diplomatic triumph’ over the Brexit negotiations.

Mr Kenny said he would remain in place as Taoiseach for a “brief but appropriate period”. It is understood he will continue to draw the salary of Taoiseach at least into June, following a planned ‘lap of triumph’ tour to include a visit to Canada.

The announcement brings to an end years of speculation about his departure. He became the longest-serving Fine Gael Taoiseach in April 2017.

However, it finally clears the way for leadership hopefuls Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar and Housing Minister Simon Coveney to launch their campaigns to take over the party and become Taoiseach.

Mr Kenny paid special tribute to his wife Fionnuala, children and siblings “for their understanding of my work, and indeed for accepting the many intrusions of politics into family life in the interest of building our country”.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams wished wish Enda Kenny and his family well. “It will be a big a change in all of their lives,” he said.

“He and I disagree on many political issues, but I acknowledge that he did his best from his perspective. From Sinn Fein’s perspective, this was not good enough.

“In 2011, Mr Kenny came to power with the largest majority in the history of the state. He promised a democratic revolution. Six years on and his political legacy is dominated by crisis, chaos, and chronic lack of accountability.

“There is an ongoing and unprecedented crisis in housing and homelessness. The health service is in chaos and there is the deep crisis in policing and justice.

“The government’s strategy for dealing with the challenge of Brexit, acknowledged as the greatest threat to the economies of this island in generations, is deeply flawed.

“There also a clear lack of affinity with the North and a clear lack of consistent strategic engagement on the process of change that is required to sustain the political institutions.

“This is a do-nothing government courtesy of the confidence and supply arrangement with the government’s partner in Fianna Fail.

“The reality is that so-called new politics, led by Mr Kenny and the Micheal Martin, isn’t new at all. As a result, there is a deep paralysis in the body politic.

“The reality is that Fine Gael, no matter who leads them, are firmly wedded to the policies that cause so much hardship in the daily lives of ordinary people.

“That will not change under Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney or any other contender. We need a change of government, not just a change of Taoiseach.”

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