Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Culture | By Julio Duncan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will resign as Fine Gael leader at midnight tonight

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will resign as Fine Gael leader at midnight tonight

Mr Kenny, who was elected taoiseach in 2011, tendered his resignation in March, but has been acting prime minister since then.

Fine Gael chief whip Regina Doherty has publicly declared her support for Leo Varadkar as the party's next leader.

Simon Coveney hailed Mr Kenny as "a towering figure in modern Irish history" who took over Fine Gael when the party was "broken and demoralised".

He said Mr Varadkar is "the most capable politician of his generation". The latter alludes to Varadkar's plain-speaking manner, which supporters say could widen the party's appeal.

Formal announcements are expected imminently from Mr Coveney and Mr Leo Varadkar to confirm that they will contest the race, which has already been going on behind the scenes.

"I think history will judge him kindly as he led our country out of a very dark period to a position today where the economic revival is slowly spreading to the regions".

Minister Coveney and Senator McFadden pictured in AIT earlier this year.

Athlone's Mayor, Cllr John Dolan, said he was not publicly declaring his support for either candidate.

A complex leadership contest now gets underway, the result of which will be announced on June 2nd.

The parliamentary party holds the whip hand with 65 per cent of the voting strength, with councillors allocated 10 per cent and rank and file members 25 per cent.

"They're two excellent candidates, but I went for Varadkar".

From Thursday to Sunday next week, there will be four regional debates or hustings - in Dublin, Carlow, Ballinasloe and Cork.

Kenny tweeted a statement as that meeting began, confirming his plans, ahead of the news being leaked in other ways.

Enda Kenny has officially announced that he will step down as leader of Fine Gael from midnight tonight.

In what is expected to be a two-horse race, nearly 21,000 Fine Gael party members will vote at 26 polling stations from May 29 to June 1, and the parliamentary party, which includes 73 TDs, senators and MEPs, will vote in Dublin on June 2.

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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