'I don't want to be leader after Kenny'
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has cleared the path for a three-way battle to replace Enda Kenny as leader of Fine Gael.
Front-runners Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Frances Fitzgerald will vie for the role before the next general election.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Donohoe said he wants to “be straight” about his ambitions.
“When the Taoiseach decides, at a point of his choosing, that he wants to move on to other things, I will not be putting my name forward,” he said.
The removal of Mr Donohoe from the equation makes Tánaiste Ms Fitzgerald the clear favourite of Mr Kenny to succeed him as leader.
However, Justice Minister Ms Fitzgerald is fighting several fires and is viewed as having a month to show she has a handle on the various garda management controversies.
Failure to restore public confidence in the justice system will undoubtedly cost her the top job.
Following his promotion to the powerful Public Spending portfolio, Mr Donohoe is seen a rising star of the party and is tipped to become the next Finance Minister after Michael Noonan.
As a result, he is expected to remain an influential figure in the Fine Gael leadership.
In his first interview since taking up his new job, Mr Donohoe adopts a hard line with unions seeking pay rises, saying that the Lansdowne Road Agreement is “the only show in town”.
The minister is also telling young, new teachers and gardaí, paid less than their older, established counterparts, that the wage gap won’t be closed.
“The message I’d like to give is that we want to work with them, but we have to work inside Lansdowne Road,” he said.