Friday 20 October 2017

Kenny seeks end to leadership issue

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny will tonight seek to bring an end to the latest bout of rumblings over his leadership.

Mr Kenny is to deliver a "state of the nation" speech to the party faithful at the Fine Gael presidential dinner at Dublin's Burlington Hotel.

The under-fire party leader will deliver a "substantive speech" to the gathering of around 800.

"It will be the first opportunity for a state of the nation address since Black Thursday last week. It will chart a course forward and set out a policy platform," a party source said.

At the same event a year ago, Mr Kenny made his contentious pledge to scrap the Seanad if he became Taoiseach. "We like to give something for people to chew on," a source said.

Mr Kenny and his party have undergone a tumultuous 12 months since the 2009 presidential dinner.

This time last year, Fine Gael was still well out in front in the opinion polls, consistently notching up support in the low- to mid-30pc range.

Party strategists were talking up the prospect of an overall majority at the next General Election. A year on, the fortunes of Mr Kenny's FG have taken a substantial turn.

Fine Gael has been overtaken by Eamon Gilmore's Labour Party in a number of polls -- but not all.

As a result, Mr Kenny's leadership has come under severe attack and he survived a leadership heave in June, led by his then deputy Richard Bruton, when more than half his frontbench sought his resignation.

Questions

Since then the question marks over Mr Kenny's leadership have not gone away. But the absence of any overwhelming favourite to take over as leader has aided his survival.

Mr Bruton, Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney are cited on the alternative leader list, along with deputy leader Dr James Reilly and former frontbencher Brian Hayes.

Irish Independent

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