Poll bounce should not affect Kenny's exit strategy, says Coveney
An opinion poll bounce shouldn't change Taoiseach Enda Kenny's timeline for standing down, Housing Minister Simon Coveney has said.
While warning that Fine Gael faces a "big challenge" to keep the party together during the leadership contest, Mr Coveney said: "I think the Taoiseach will put that process in place before the summer as I've always said he would."
However, his rival Leo Varadkar said he was confident the party would be "united and more importantly emerge united from any leadership contest". Asked about when Mr Kenny should step down, he said: "I am happy for him to make that decision himself."
The ministers were responding to a poll which showed a 7pc boost for Fine Gael. Mr Kenny's popularity rose 8pc to 34pc in the B&A/ 'Sunday Times' poll. "I think the party is in reasonable shape given that it has been a pretty challenging 12 months," said Mr Coveney, who has been in a high-profile battle with Fianna Fáil over water charges in recent weeks.
Mr Varadkar said the leadership contest would be an opportunity for "a really good debate about how the party can be organised, about the future of the party itself, what the party stands for, and what we intend to do in Government in the future".