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FG rebels hoping Kenny will decide to step down

REBEL Fine Gael TDs are awaiting the next opinion poll before deciding whether to make a move against embattled leader Enda Kenny.

But the mavericks in the party are hoping that some of Mr Kenny's supporters, who they believe are wavering, will move first and convince him to step down.

The latest opinion poll released yesterday put Fine Gael's popularity at 24pc -- the same level as Fianna Fail.

At the end of Wednesday night's parliamentary party meeting, when Mr Kenny read out the results, one party source said it "felt like the end".

But Fine Gael heavyweights Phil Hogan, James Reilly and Michael Noonan insisted their party, and not Labour, would lead the next Government.

Mr Kenny made no public comments on the opinion poll yesterday, but his deputy leader Dr James Reilly claimed the three opinion polls over the last week had shown different results -- one of which put Fine Gael as the largest and most popular party in the country.

The devastating results were overshadowed by yesterday's announcement on the cost of bailing out the banks. But Fine Gael rebels, who supported Richard Bruton in the failed leadership heave in June, are now hoping their leader will go voluntarily.


"The first move has to come from the people who supported him, but who are now wavering. This weekend is going to tell a lot -- when those TDs who backed Enda go back to their constituencies, and meet with members and councillors," one TD said.

"There are lots of members and councillors who backed Enda complaining now."

If Mr Kenny's wavering supporters don't move, a number of senior TDs said they will adopt a "wait-and-see approach", before deciding if they will make any move.

"If we are still in the low-to- mid-20s in the polls next time out, it will make life very tough for Enda," one TD said.

Another TD said colleagues may be faced with no other choice but to table another motion of no confidence if opinion polls don't improve.

"A lot of people will be considering their positions over the weekend with party members. A lot of us now think Enda should go for the sake of the party, to go now with honour," the TD said.

Among the rebel TDs, enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton remains the obvious choice to succeed Mr Kenny.

Dipping below 25pc puts Fine Gael dangerously close to the kind of territory that ushered in the meltdown of 2002 when the party recorded its worst election performance ever, falling from 54 seats to 31.

Irish Independent