Bruton claims he has support to oust Kenny
FINE Gael's Richard Bruton insisted last night that he had enough support in the party to oust Enda Kenny as leader.
He was speaking in the wake of Mr Kenny's dramatic decision to sack him as party finance spokesman and deputy leader after eight years in both roles.
Mr Bruton said he believed a clear majority in the Fine Gael frontbench and the parliamentary party would support his leadership bid.
"Everyone feels intensely loyal within Fine Gael but at some point loyalty to the country and loyalty to the people has to take precedence over an individual person," he said.
Mr Bruton justified his decision to launch a leadership challenge by saying the party was not fulfilling its potential under Mr Kenny.
"I believe that he does not have the capacity to deal with the difficult problem that the country faces," Mr Bruton said. "I believe people have lost confidence in him."
He said there were several times when Mr Kenny had promised to change how he did things -- but it had not been successful.
"At a certain point you have to decide, do you remain loyal to an individual who we all like, who has done a lot of work, or do we say 'We have to try something better'?"
Mr Bruton elaborated on his doubts over Mr Kenny's ability to handle economic policy.
"We have to restore economic security and we have to have a leader in whom people have faithin his capacity to do that. And sadly, he hasn't been able to do that, despite huge other things that he's done for the party," he told RTE.
Mr Bruton had been planning to use today's Fine Gael frontbench meeting in Leinster House to tell his colleagues it was time for Mr Kenny to step down. But he will not be able to attend after being sacked.
"I would like to have been party to that. I believe these issues are better handled internally, but so be it," he said.
He confirmed he would be campaigning to defeat the motion of confidence in Mr Kenny's leadership which will be voted on at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, involving all its TDs and senators, on Thursday.
Before his sacking yesterday, Mr Bruton had told the Irish Independent that he was conscious of a fear among party members that they might lose out on his economic expertise as finance spokesman. "I'm conscious of every dimension of our needs and challenges and resources," he said.