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Friday 15 December 2017

Kenny plays down party rumblings on leadership

Michael Brennan and Conor Kane

FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny yesterday declared that he had no intention of quitting despite growing pressure from rebels in his party.

He said that he still intended to become Taoiseach and would not be deterred by the three bad opinion polls for his party in the past week.

"Yes, I do intend to be the next Taoiseach and I intend to provide the hardest-working government in the history of this State, because that's what it's going to take to sort out this problem," he said.

Mr Kenny was speaking on a visit to the Educate Together school in Donabate, North Dublin, which has 23 teachers and 445 pupils housed entirely in prefabs.

But in two further blows to his leadership, a former Fine Gael minister and a group of Fine Gael councillors in Waterford called on him to quit.

A tweet from former Fine Gael minister Gemma Hussey suggested that someone needed to ask Mr Kenny to "go quietly".

She referred to Mr Kenny as "a good and decent man" but called for a new energetic team, including party finance spokesman Michael Noonan.

In Waterford, up to 16 Fine Gael regional assembly members met before scheduled regional assembly sub-committee meetings yesterday morning and, according to one present, spoke of "a real sense of anger and frustration" about what was happening to the party.

Waterford County Council member Damien Geoghegan said afterwards that all present agreed they had to go back to their TDs and senators and vent their views on the party leadership.

"There was unanimous feeling among the councillors that Enda Kenny has to step aside and it has to be within the next week. It has to happen quickly," he said.

Yesterday's meeting came at the end of a week which saw Fine Gael level with Fianna Fail on 24pc in the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll.

Fine Gael TDs are waiting anxiously for the next opinion poll, with one saying yesterday there were still "rumblings" about Mr Kenny's leadership.

Mr Kenny said he would "absolutely not" be considering his position in the wake of the polls and denied anybody in Fine Gael had approached him about quitting.

"To be going on about polls the day after the Irish people were saddled with a €40bn debt by bad decisions by a disgraceful Government. The next generation are going to have to pay for this. That's where my interest lies and that's where the focus of the Fine Gael party lies," he said.

Mr Kenny said he expected everybody in Fine Gael to shape up to what they had to do -- to provide a better alternative to the Government.

"On the doors I knock and the people I meet all over the country, they are absolutely wild with anger at what's happened here -- that the Irish people were misled by a Government which said the banking crisis was separate from the budgetary factors," he said.

He was asked about the silent reaction of the FG parliamentary party when at its meeting he read out a text message with the results of the latest poll.

"I just informed the parliamentary party as I always do. You never turn away from these issues. You deal with them," he said.

Irish Independent

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