Monday 25 September 2017

Coveney: Kenny should be 'trusted' to step aside after St Patrick's Day

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Housing Minister Simon Coveney pictured earlier this month Photo: Damien Eagers
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Housing Minister Simon Coveney pictured earlier this month Photo: Damien Eagers
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

HOUSING Minister Simon Coveney has said he believes Enda Kenny should be replaced as Fine Gael leader following his planned trip to Washington for St Patrick’s Day.

Mr Coveney said the transition in Fine Gael should be “calm and orderly” as he hit out at other TDs for issuing “threats and ultimatums” to Mr Kenny.

And in a clear swipe at his rival Mr Varadkar, Mr Coveney said Mr Kenny should be “trusted” to announce his own timeline to step aside.

Nonetheless, the Cork South Central TD said he believes a leadership contest should be launched after Mr Kenny meets Donald Trump in the White House.

“In my view, we should trust the Taoiseach on this. My view is that the Taoiseach should go to Washington for St Patrick’s Day. But I expect the leadership within Fine Gael, but ultimately the leadership in the country, the issues around that will be dealt with very quickly after that,” Mr Coveney told RTÉ’s ‘The Week in Politics’.

Mr Coveney stood by his strategy of painting Mr Varadkar as more impatient in relation to the leadership issue.

“I think the emphasis has been a little bit different from Leo and me. I think he wants to push things, he wants clarity from the Taoiseach on timelines,” the minister told broadcaster Áine Lawlor.

Mr Coveney added: “I’ve said very clearly that I don’t think people in the party should be coming out and putting down ultimatums and making threats of motions of no confidence and demanding immediate statements from the Taoiseach.”

He said the Taoiseach has brought the country through a “storm” and is “owed” the respect by members.

The intervention by Mr Coveney came just hours after Mr Varadkar released a statement that put huge pressure on Mr Kenny to step aside.

“Everyone is waiting to hear from the Taoiseach. The current situation is distracting and destabilising for the Government, the party and the country. I have full confidence in the Taoiseach to settle it,” the statement said.

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