Thursday 29 September 2016

Enda Kenny rebukes Chief Whip over intentions of 'being Taoiseach beyond 2021' remarks

Published 09/08/2015 | 13:43

Enda Kenny with chief whip Paul Kehoe
Enda Kenny with chief whip Paul Kehoe

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has strongly rebuked his Chief Whip Paul Kehoe over comments about how long he wishes to stay as leader.

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Last week, Mr Kehoe caused controversy when he said Mr Kenny wants to remain as leader of the country until past 2021, but Mr Kenny said Mr Kehoe had used a great deal of “poetic licence” when he was speaking.

Deputy Paul Kehoe puts his arm around Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny after the Mayo TD survived a leadership challenge from Richard Bruton in 2010
Deputy Paul Kehoe puts his arm around Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny after the Mayo TD survived a leadership challenge from Richard Bruton in 2010

Mr Kenny, speaking today, said that it is firstly a matter for the people who governs the party and his priority is to finish the job he has to get the country back to work.

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Mr Kenny said he has no intention of serving beyond the term of the next Government.

Senior government sources have said it is their understanding that Mr Kenny, if elected, would step down in 2018, once the target of "full employment" is achieved. When pressed, this was clarified to mean 2.1 million people at work.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney said that the Taoiseach was angered and uncomfortable by Mr Kehoe's comments about the leadership.

"Honestly, this is a summer story that the Taoiseach himself is uncomfortable with.

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"It is the people who will decide who leads the country, not politicians. I am not going to make any comment about Enda's future. He is a strong leader and successful Taoiseach," he said.

"Paul Kehoe offered a view and he is perfectly entitled to his view, but I wouldn't be reading anything like what has been read into this story. It is speculation and not particularly relevant.

"I would be very surprised if that was the case. If you want an honest answer from me, this was Paul Kehoe doing an interview giving personal views and being open. From my understanding, the Taoiseach is trying to dampen this story down, I don't think there is any thought process beyond that."

Another minister said: "Enda is not happy and we all could have done without it".

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