Tuesday 24 April 2018

Timeline: Taoiseach's authority whittled down over eight months

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Getty
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Getty
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

July 8, 2016

Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty called on Enda Kenny to clarify his intentions on how long he will remain as leader. Speaking on LMFM, Ms Doherty said to do so would allow the party "get back to normal".

Without a definitive timeline, she said Fine Gael TDs and senators would be giving a different opinion on the issue every week.

It followed an opinion poll showing Leo Varadkar as the favourite to replace the Taoiseach.

July 10

Fine Gael's deputy chairman Pat Deering urged the Taoiseach to name a departure date.

Kate O’Connell. Photo: Tom Burke
Kate O’Connell. Photo: Tom Burke

Newspapers had been suggesting that some party members might file a motion of no confidence in Mr Kenny following gains for Fianna Fáil in opinion polls.

It followed a period of instability surrounding a vote on Mick Wallace's fatal foetal abnormalities bill in the Dáil.

The Taoiseach effectively gave the Independent members of the Cabinet a free vote on the bill.

"I would expect that the Taoiseach would clarify the situation on Wednesday night at our next parliamentary party meeting. I think that would probably be the most appropriate place to do so at this stage," Mr Deering said.

Louth TD Fergus O'Dowd said he would like to see change "sooner rather than later".

July 12

Clare TD Joe Carey said the Taoiseach should outline his intentions. "It is incumbent on the Taoiseach to come out and put his case forward. We need a stable government, but I do feel the Taoiseach needs to draw a line through this, he needs to explain his position to the parliamentary party," he said.

Michael D'Arcy agreed, saying: "I think the Taoiseach needs to clarify a timetable for when he intends to stand down."

July 13

Cork South West TD Jim Daly said a "culture of fear" must be lifted from the party rooms and the leadership "should be discussed now".

September 14

Brendan Griffin from Kerry said the party needed a "fresh start" and that the leadership issue had to be addressed for the sake of the country.

"A time comes when you have to just say we have to confront this; it's not a pleasant thing to be confronting anyone's leadership, but the reality is that as members of the party we have a duty to protect the party," he said.

Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan suggested Mr Kenny's leadership should be addressed after October's Budget.

"We had months of uncertainty following the election. We now have a Government in place. We have a budget in a month's time. Enda Kenny has already said he won't lead us into the next election. It is fairly obvious that election could happen at any time and once the budget is finished we need to return to this subject," he said.

John Deasy, who has long been a critic of Mr Kenny, had maintained an unusual silence since the election but broke it to say: "This will come to a head by the end of the year and it must be dealt with."

January 11, 2017

One of the party's newest TDs, Kate O'Connell from the Dublin Bay South constituency, entered the debate. She urged ministers who wished to succeed Enda Kenny to show their "mettle" by questioning the leadership.

February 13

Noel Rock, who is a supporter of Leo Varadkar, told the Irish Independent that poor opinion poll ratings were linked to the uncertainty around the leadership. He called for Mr Kenny to give a timeline for his exit.

He suffered a backlash from some party elders - but his statements were a prelude to what would follow over the past few days.

How the FG leadership election process works

Candidates who are hoping to run for the leadership of Fine Gael must secure the backing of at least seven TDs, senators or MEPs.

The party rulebook outlines a strict process for the selection of a leader, involving a series of hustings around the country. The 73 members of the parliamentary party will be key to victory as they make up 65pc of the vote.

Councillors account for 10pc of the weighted vote, while ordinary members are 25pc of the Electoral College.

Fine Gael's executive council will be responsible for picking a polling date, not later than 20 days after a vacancy in the position of leader arises.

A candidate must be nominated in writing by members representing at least 10pc of the parliamentary party, not more than seven days after the vacancy arises. Hustings will be organised between day 10 and day 18.

"The regional meetings will provide an opportunity for the party membership, including the local public representatives, to meet the candidates," the Fine Gael constitution states.

The voting is done by secret ballot with public representatives voting on the same day and at the same venues as the party membership.

Parliamentary party members will cast their vote at a special meeting convened by the party chairman.

Read more: 'Noonan's fate tied to Enda' - Fine Gael reshuffle could see minister go

Irish Independent

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