Kenny issues rallying call to party faithful over election
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has admitted that both Fine Gael and the Labour Party must improve their popularity if they are to serve a second consecutive term in government.
Mr Kenny issued a rallying call at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, telling TDs and senators to "recharge your batteries" during the summer recess ahead of the long-running election campaign.
The Fine Gael leader said, on at least six occasions, that the election will be in 2016, despite speculation that he is gearing towards calling an earlier poll.
Despite the insistence that the government will go the full term, Fine Gael Oireachtas members at the meeting queried whether Mr Kenny is still considering a November election.
"He mentioned 2016 so many times it's like he is trying to put everyone off the scent," said one deputy.
During a 20-minute address to the parliamentary party meeting, Mr Kenny also admitted that he would like to see improvements in the poll ratings of Fine Gael and coalition partners Labour.
He also spoke on the Irish Water controversy, insisting that the government was standing firm, while Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have changed their positions.
Mr Kenny spoke about the situation in Greece, having been part of an extraordinary emergency European summit on Sunday that lasted a record 18 hours. He said he has empathy for the Greek people and that there are many difficult days ahead for their economy.
Sources at the meeting said they were impressed at Mr Kenny's contribution, given that he came under fire last week over the top-ups to pensions for former ministers.
At last week's Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, Mr Kenny stunned deputies by suggesting that former Taoisigh and ministers should enter into voluntary agreements and refrain from accepting the money.
Ex-Taoiseach John Bruton has said he will not take the top-ups.