Kenny lands another surprise by signing up to American trip
Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be in the United States on an official trip as ballots are counted to select his successor.
Mr Kenny has stunned colleagues by committing to a five-day tour focusing on the US Pacific North West and Mid West as part of an Enterprise Ireland trade mission.
Leadership contenders Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar are both operating on the basis that voting in the contest will take place on the June bank holiday weekend, with a result expected on Tuesday, June 6.
The Taoiseach is due to be out of the country from June 4-9.
Confirmation of the trip sent shockwaves through the Coveney and Varadkar camps last night, renewing fears that Mr Kenny won't announce his plans to step down next Wednesday as expected.
"He's actually trying to mess with everybody. Even the middle-ground TDs are growing tired of the games," said one source.
The Irish Independent understands Mr Coveney has now formally added senators Jerry Buttimer and Paudie Coffey to his supporters list, while TD Josepha Madigan is said to be backing Mr Varadkar.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael ministers are furious with suggestions that Fianna Fáil would block the reappointment of Frances Fitzgerald as Justice Minister.
Senior Fianna Fáil sources denied the threat after Mr Coveney and Mr Varadkar issued statements defending the future Taoiseach's right to appoint his/her own cabinet.