Saturday 3 December 2016

Rebel TDs openly challenge Taoiseach’s leadership at Fine Gael think-in

Duo say their views on leadership change are shared by many in FG

John Downing and Niall O’Connor

Published 13/09/2016 | 12:40

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s claim on “another two years” has been promptly and strongly challenged by two maverick Fine Gael TDs.

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The criticisms came little more than two hours after Mr Kenny signalled on national radio that he wanted to stay on for a longer period and “fulfil his mandate.”

Kerry TD Brendan Griffin
Kerry TD Brendan Griffin

At the same time, Housing Minister, Simon Coveney – a contender to succeed Mr Kenny – stressed that the Taoiseach was entitled to pick his own timetable for departure. But Mr Coveney also said it was difficult to see how things would be for the years ahead.

At Fine Gael’s gathering in Newbridge, Co Kildare, two TDs, Brendan Griffin of Kerry and Jim Daly of Cork South West, said the party had to discuss the party leadership soon.

Mr Griffin said his views on the need for leadership change were shared by others in the party who had yet to identify themselves.

“I certainly feel that, for the country’s sake and for the party’s sake, we need to confront this issue now,” the Kerry TD said.

Mr Griffin said Fine Gael had 50pc more TDs a year ago and they had also lost over 100 councillors after the 2014 local elections. “If that’s not a wake-up call for a party in any scenario, what is?” he asked.

The Cork South West TD, Jim Daly, stressed at length that Mr Kenny was a good Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader. He said the leadership issue only arose because Mr Kenny had himself said he would not lead the party in the next general election.

Mr Daly said current instability meant an election could happen at any time the issue was “urgent.”  But he was not definite about a timeline.

He said Fianna Fáil, in underpinning the minority coalition, had guaranteed three Budgets.

Sometime after the next Budget on October 11 next, and the following Budget in autumn 2017, the leadership issue had to be dealt with.

“There’s absolutely no point pretending that it will go away,” Mr Daly added.

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