Friday, 24 November, 2017

Irish Prime Minister steps down as leader of ruling Fine Gael party

Freda Brock | 20 May, 2017, 00:14

"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".

Ireland will have a new prime minister in June after Taoiseach Enda Kenny quit as leader of his party.

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney have been named as the two leading candidates to take over, with nominations in the contest to close on Saturday.

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 previous year as voters complained they were not feeling the recovery.

"I would like to stress the huge honor and privilege that it has been for me to lead our party for the past 15 years, in opposition and into government on two successive occasions", Kenny said in a statement.

Meanwhile the Irish finance minister Michael Noonan has announced he is set to retire from politics at the next election.

Minister McHugh said he believed Minister Varadkar would be an outstanding leader of the country who understood issues affecting people right across the State and in particular Donegal.

Minister Noonan said that he would continue to carry out his duties until a new party leader is elected.

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She is among four Ministers and four TDs who added their support to Mr Varadkar's campaign to succeed Enda Kenny during the day.

The former Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, has recently announced that he will enter the race to become the next leader of the Fine Gael party.

Other achievements during the 66-year-old's time in government include the legalisation of gay marriage.

He said Mr Varadkar is "the most capable politician of his generation".

David Cameron took to Twitter to pay tribute, posting: "Enda Kenny TD was a strong leader for Ireland, a great partner for the United Kingdom, and remains a good friend".

"I would say our Taoiseach is going out on a high".

The contest will be decided using a weighted voting system across three electoral colleges - the parliamentary party, councillors and party members.

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