Monday 18 December 2017

Triumphant Kenny vows no new 'wobbles' before election

Aine Kerr Political Correspondent

A TRIUMPHANT Enda Kenny last night insisted his party would throw no more wobbles ahead of a General Election to oust Fianna Fail from government.

The Fine Gael leader refused to say if any of his 11 frontbench rebels would feature in his new team next week, but clearly signalled he would consider people on both sides of yesterday's divisive vote.

Many of his jubilant supporters last night urged him to reinstate leadership contender and former finance spokesman Richard Bruton to the frontbench.

They also appealed for him to reappoint other senior TDs such as Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney, Brian Hayes, Fergus O'Dowd and Denis Naughten to their frontbench positions.

Phil Hogan, one of the key players in securing last night's victory, said Mr Kenny would again prove himself to be a "bridge builder".

"He did not cause this problem. It's now his responsibility to bring various people in the party together again, which I've no doubt he will do," Mr Hogan said.

An announcement on that new frontbench line-up, which was planned for Monday, has now been postponed so that the Fine Gael leader can hold discussions with his party.

Mr Kenny insisted he had made no promises on frontbench jobs as he lobbied TDs for their support in recent days.

A clearly relieved Mr Kenny, who received a standing ovation after yesterday evening's result, insisted his friendship with his rival Mr Bruton was not broken.

He said "healing wounds" had been central to his leadership record. Mr Kenny added he would give consideration to all of the recommendations and views aired at yesterday's five-hour meeting.

There were many views about "inadequacies and inefficiencies" in the party and these would be addressed, he said.

When asked if he was concerned there could be further heaves before he makes it to the General Election, Mr Kenny said: "The Fine Gael party has no more wobbles."

He claimed the result of yesterday's vote would never be known as only two Fine Gael members were privy to the figures.

Despite questions raised about his economic competence by his leadership rival, Mr Kenny claimed a Taoiseach did not have to have a 100pc grasp of all departmental details.

"The point was made by a number of speakers that the Taoiseach of the day doesn't have to have the minute detail of every single department. We have a very strong economic team, a lot of expertise in our party," he said.

Munster MEP and former GAA president Sean Kelly said Mr Kenny had proven he was a "man of steel".

His fellow MEP Mairead McGuinness said Mr Kenny had given a "stunning" speech.

Irish Independent

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