Tuesday 24 October 2017

Leo Varadkar increases pressure on Enda Kenny to announce departure timetable

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Leo Varadkar.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Leo Varadkar.
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Leo Varadkar has given his clearest signal yet that he expects Taoiseach Enda Kenny to set out a timeline for his departure as Fine Gael leader in the coming days.

As he faced allegations that he orchestrated attacks on the Fine Gael leader, Mr Varadkar told independent.ie: “Everyone is waiting to hear from the Taoiseach.

“The current situation is distracting and destabilising for the Government, the party and the country. I have full confidence in the Taoiseach to settle it,” he added.

The minister’s supporters welcomed Mr Varadkar’s com­ments and vowed to move on the Taoiseach by this Thurs­day if he does not announce when he plans to step down as leader at a Fine Gael par­liamentary party meeting on Wednesday.

“If Kenny tried to stick it out we will move,” a promi­nent rebel TD said.

Mr Varadkar’s closest ad­visers said Mr Kenny “deserves the weekend” to consider his position.

However, there was panic in the Varadkar camp after the minister was branded a “judas” by an unnamed Cabinet source in the Irish Independent.

Mr Varadkar’s backers blamed the Taoiseach’s sup­porters for what they said was a “smear” on the Social Protection Minister.

However, a number of his supporters confirmed they were talking to Mr Varadkar about the events of the last week.

The Taoiseach’s spokesman yesterday gave no indication of Mr Kenny’s plans when contacted by independent.ie.

“The Taoiseach will do as he has always done which is to focus on the job in hand which he will carry out with continued dignity and dedica­tion,” he said.

Fine Gael Wexford TD Michael D’Arcy, an outspoken critic of the party leadership, urged members not to “canni­balise” each other during the leadership contest.

Foreign Affair Minister Charlie Flanagan warned an internal Fine Gael war could result in the party being bounced into an election they do not want. “Fine Gael needs to keep calm and measured over the next few months or we’ll catapult ourselves into a messy election that will play into the hands of Sinn Fein and loony Independents,” Mr Flanagan told independent.ie.

Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty has called on her Fine Gael colleagues to de­sist from issuing ultimatums to Kenny over his future as Taoiseach and party leader.

“He has done a tremendous amount for us in Fine Gael over the last 15 years and just because of that, if no other reason, he deserves the due respect, regard and space to talk to his friends and family, make his decisions and come back to us,” Ms Doherty said on RTE Radio.

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