Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny arrives for a meeting of the EPP prior to an EU sum
19 May, 2017, 18:45
Speaking to reporters, Minister Varadkar said: "I believe that I can modernise and transform Fine Gael, make it a campaigning party and a fighting force again".
He added: "Most importantly, I want to take the country forward".
Mr Coveney is trailing in the early stages of the contest but has the support of Health Minister Simon Harris and around 20 members of the parliamentary party with a large section of the Fine Gael veterans yet to declare.
Mr Donohoe stated his intention to vote for Mr Varadkar in an interview on RTÉ's Morning Ireland.
Speaking to Cork's 96 FM News, the Minister for European Affairs said: "I've worked and known Simon Coveney for many years, and I think he's got the qualities we need at this time to lead the country".
Mr Donohoe's support is also significant, as he is one of the most influential members of the Cabinet and has been tipped as a potential minister for finance once Michael Noonan steps down after the leadership race.
Mr Flanagan told RTÉ Radio 1's Today with Sean O'Rourke show that Mr Varadkar "is the change candidate. This country needs a leader for the 21st century and Leo is that person".
Ministers Charlie Flanagan and Paul Kehoe, as well as TD Fergus O'Dowd, have also backed Varadkar.
In a statement, Mr Kehoe said Mr Varadkar's "capacity to build a strong support base is testament to his willingness to work with party colleagues".
But the Minister for Housing is hoping a substantial number of the 17 parliamentary-party members who have yet to publicly support either candidate will help him close the gap on his rival.
Mr Varadkar has already secured the public endorsements of around 35 members of the parliamentary party.
Nearly 21,000 party members will vote at 26 polling stations from Monday May 29 to Thursday June 1 and the parliamentary party which includes 73 TDs, senators and MEPs, will vote in Dublin on Friday June 2.
Ms Fitzgerald decided against standing for the leadership, as did Minister for Education Richard Bruton, who immediately said he would be supporting Mr Varadkar.
Campaigning: Simon Coveney at Fine Gael headquarters on Thursday.
The taoiseach's decision to resign as leader of Fine Gael last night triggered a battle to succeed him.
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.
He advised people not to confuse someone who is good at putting deals together with someone who is weak.
However, the next few days will be very telling in terms of the outcome.
Mr Kenny will visit the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith, which has been extensively redeveloped in recent years and is due to officially re-open in the coming weeks.
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