Sunday 16 December 2018

Fine Gael eye top EU job for former Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Fine Gael also believes Rural Affairs Minister Mr Ring is the ideal candidate to run as an MEP

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny at NUI Galway, where he received an honorary doctorate of laws for his contributions to public life. Photo: Hany Marzouk
Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny at NUI Galway, where he received an honorary doctorate of laws for his contributions to public life. Photo: Hany Marzouk
Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring Picture: Steve Humphreys

Niall O'Connor

Mayo's two most well-known politicians - Enda Kenny and Michael Ring - are being lined up for EU posts, the Irish Independent has learned.

Fine Gael bosses believe that Mr Kenny, the former Taoiseach, is well placed to take up the position of head of the European People's Party, of which Fine Gael is a member.

Such a post is seen as a stepping stone to the job of head of the European Council, which is currently filled by Poland's Donald Tusk.

Mr Kenny remains a backbench TD and has already announced that he does not intend to stand in Mayo in the next election. Mr Kenny has been previously linked to a top post in the EU.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael believes Rural Affairs Minister Mr Ring is the ideal candidate to run as an MEP in the Midlands-North-West constituency.

EU sources told the Irish Independent Ireland is set to gain potentially two seats at the European Parliament as a result of the decision by Britain to quit the EU.

However, if Mr Ring runs he will come under increasing pressure to relinquish his ministerial position during the election campaign.

Within Fine Gael, it is believed that Dublin MEP Brian Hayes will stand again, along with sitting MEPs Seán Kelly and Mairéad McGuinness.

It is not known whether Deirdre Clune, of Ireland South, will defend her seat.

Fine Gael believes that additional candidates should be both "high profile" and "popular" among the electorate.

The party is targeting the seat held by Roscommon politician Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.

Sources have said Mr Ring has an interest in serving in Brussels, having previously held the role of head of the EU sports ministers delegation.

But any decision to run Mr Ring in the EU elections in 2019 could result in a by-election.

Mr Ring could not be reached for comment last night.

Irish Independent

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