Varadkar steals march in race to be Taoiseach
Leo Varadkar has emerged as the clear frontrunner in the race to succeed Enda Kenny as Taoiseach - a contest that will be decided predominantly by Fine Gael TDs.
The Social Protection Minister has stolen a head start on nearest rivals Simon Coveney and Frances Fitzgerald, by constantly phoning colleagues to discuss their concerns, as well as entertaining TDs on nights out.
It is now widely accepted within the party that Mr Kenny will spell out his departure plan after the Budget in October, with a contest expected to conclude as early as the spring.
However, no candidates are prepared to launch a 'heave'.
Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe and Health Minister Simon Harris have also been linked to the job of Taoiseach.
But Mr Donohoe has released a statement insisting Mr Kenny has his full support.
"We are making real progress in ensuring continued economic growth and in dealing with the challenges our country faces," he said.
Talk of leadership of the Party is a distraction from the vital work of Government. As Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I am fully focussed on making sensible choices with the taxpayers’ money.”