Sunday 21 January 2018

Enda Kenny dashes party rivals' leadership hopes: I won't step down as Taoiseach until the next election

Taoiseach will retire immediately before next election

The new Cabinet, meeting for the first time in Government Buildings yesterday (Picture: Maxwells)
The new Cabinet, meeting for the first time in Government Buildings yesterday (Picture: Maxwells)
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has revealed he plans to see out the full term of this Government as leader.

Mr Kenny was speaking in Castlebar where he insisted he would only step down as Taoiseach prior to the next election.

“I’ve always said that my intention would be to serve the full term but not to lead the party into the next general election.

"I’ve made that perfectly clear and that’s where I am but I have a lot of work to do in the meantime,” he said.

Prospects: The new Government has had a wobbly start. Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Prospects: The new Government has had a wobbly start. Photo: Kyran O’Brien

Mr Kenny acknowledged that the current Government make up was very different to what has gone before but said this may be the way of the future.

“It’s very different and I think when you look back at the situation that applied from the 1930s onwards, in those periods you’ve had single party governments, you’ve had coalition governments, now you have minority government. 

Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney

"This may well be the way of the future who knows what the electorate will decide,” he added.

Party colleagues Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney, Frances Fitzgerald and Paschal Donohoe have been tipped as the favourites to take the leadership role.

Asked how confident he was that the Government would see out the full term, Mr Kenny said there had been a lot of media speculation that this couldn’t last.

“The same was said indeed of one of the Ahern Government’s which was dependant on a number of Independents,” he added.

While he acknowledged that this situation was “vastly more complex” he said he expected all sides to work together for ‘Team Ireland’.

He said he expected things to settle down once people realised there was an “attitudinal change” which he said was required from Government, the Opposition and the Public Service.

“From now on it’s got to be an understanding that all of these matters have to be discussed and published and made available for the information of the public and I think in that sense there’s a great freedom and a liberty here that has not been available or wasn’t necessary before and caused quite a deal of difficulties in time past.

“So it’s a brave new world in the sense of a very different kind of Dáil and I hope working together in a new way for Team Ireland that the decisions being made by Government and being implemented will be for the interest of the people and for their benefit and that’s what good politics should be about,” he added.

The Taoiseach said he was recently stopped on the street by a man who thanked him “for volunteering to run our country.” Mr Kenny said the man had expressed his astonishment that so many people who put their names forward to be elected to Dáil Eireann do not want to have anything to do with Government and do not want to have anything to do with making decisions.

“So that’s why the responsibility is on me as leader of the largest party to put together a Government that is now in situ with the assistance and agreement of other parties in Opposition and at Government level will try to implement in the very best way we can the Programme for Government that we have set out,” he added.

Mr Kenny said he intended to announced his Junior Ministers and Seanad nominations this week. He refused to be drawn on speculation that Alan Shatter was among those he would chose for the Seanad.

“There is always speculation, I’ve got over 70 names on my desk and no matter what I do, you can’t win in that sense, so obviously you try to pick the best team that you can to improve the work of the Seanad and reflect the different sectors that are necessary there. So I hope to do that this week as well,” he added.

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