Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Laois County Council chairman backs Simon Coveney in Fine Gael leadership race

The two frontrunners to succeed Mr Kenny - Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar - also paid tribute.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, meanwhile, declared his intention to support Mr Varadkar saying he was the "change candidate".

"While over the years we have had our differences on many political and policy issues, I have always appreciated Enda's decency, good humour and approachability".

Meanwhile, Minister Varadkar has received the backing of the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton.

Among Mr Kenny's final official overseas engagements will be a two-day trade mission to Chicago and the centenary commemoration of the start of the World War One Battle of Messines.

Mr Coveney said yesterday that 20 people signed his nomination papers but last night refused to publish the list, claiming some were not willing to go public yet.

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.

"Politics and society have become very fractured and Simon wants to reunite communities and reunite this country. That landed us as local councillors in the local elections in 2014 with a hill to climb.It was tough campaign but I wouldn't blame that on Enda", he said.

Ministers Charlie Flanagan and Paul Kehoe, as well as TD Fergus O'Dowd, have also backed Varadkar.

He set himself a deadline of the end of June to end the practice of putting up thousands of families who need emergency accommodation in hotels and B&Bs.

Mr Harris added: "Simon Coveney certainly doesn't shirk challenges; he confronts them".

Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar described him as an "extraordinary Taoiseach and Fine Gael's most successful leader ever". Junior ministers Damien English and David Stanton are also in the camp.

Mr Coveney said that he expected Mr Varadkar to get a head start early on and that he was confident party members and councillors would respond positively to his message.

"I do not wish to be considered for Cabinet by his successor, whoever that may be", Noonan said in a statement.

"Leo has the qualities that I believe will bring Fine Gael and our country into a new era of social inclusion and fairness that will be to the benefit of every person throughout the country".

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