'Every race has a dark horse' - Coffey declares ambition to be Taoiseach
Housing Minister Paudie Coffey has become the latest minister to declare his ambition to serve as Taoiseach.
Mr Coffey, a first time TD, said a "dark horse" was sure to emerge in the race to succeed Enda Kenny as Fine Gael leader.
While insisting that he believed Mr Kenny would remain in the post for years to come, the Waterford TD confirmed his intentions to serve at the highest level.
"If I had the support of the parliamentary party to be leader some day, that's something I'd consider down the road - but it's not something on the agenda at the moment," he told the Irish Independent.
Mr Coffey also hit out at what he described as a "simplistic" perception within the party that Mr Kenny will be succeeded by someone from within Cabinet. To date, the names constantly linked with taking over the reins from Mr Kenny are Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Frances Fitzgerald.
In recent weeks a growing number of backbench TDs have been talking up the prospects of Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe taking the top job. Mr Donohoe also has the backing of Sports Minister Michael Ring.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Minister for State at the Department of Agriculture Tom Hayes said he believed there were at least eight potential successors to Mr Kenny within the party.
"I'd say there could be eight or nine potential successors, maybe even more," he said.
Asked about her own leadership ambitions, Ms Fitzgerald said she was more focused on holding on to her seat in Dublin Mid-West.
"My message to my voters is support me to get re-elected so I can keep doing my work. There is no such thing as a safe seat and I know that from the tough times," she said.
"We are facing into an election. We have a Taoiseach who has done a remarkable job for this country, who will lead us into that election. So the leadership question is simply not on the agenda."