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FG blame Fianna Fail for rumours that Kenny's leadership under threat

Fine Gael has moved to quash fresh rumours that Enda Kenny's leadership is under threat.

And party sources have blamed Fianna Fail for trying to undermine the Mayo TD, in an attempt to destabilise the main opposition party at a time when it is seven points ahead in the polls.

Whispers about Mr Kenny's position have resurfaced around Leinster House after his office invited all Fine Gael TDs and Senators to one-to-one meetings with the leader.

Speculation is also mounting that a frontbench reshuffle may take place later this year -- possibly in tandem with a Cabinet shake-up being planned by Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

It is thought that any move by Fine Gael could see its most inexperienced but highly respected TD, George Lee, moved into a key portfolio.

A spokesperson for Mr Kenny refused to rule out the possibility today, saying: "That's the prerogative of the leader. There isn't anything scheduled.

"Enda is quite well-known for using the talent within the party to the best use and he'll continue to do that."

The spokesperson categorically ruled out any threat to Mr Kenny's authority, telling the Herald: "Those who want to undermine Fine Gael and the party's continued growth will use any line of attack, including attacking the leader of the party.

"Fine Gael will continue to push forward, building on the success of the last three national elections, which were lead by Enda Kenny."

He argued that having a tete-a-tete with each parliamentary member was an idea that came up before Christmas.

"Enda wants to do it. It's his way, his thing. He wants to talk to them, hear what's going on. There's absolutely nothing unusual about it," he said.

It is expected that the meetings will take place ahead of the party's national conference on the weekend of March 19.

The new rumours surrounding Mr Kenny come days after Fianna Fail got a four-points boost in an opinion poll.

They also follow a poor performance on the Late Late Show where he stalled when pushed on the issue of entering power with Sinn Fein, and another stumble during a Newstalk interview where he tried to dodge questions on water charges.

One party source said today: "People are playing up an awkward moment he had on the Late Late Show and maybe some guys got nervous because there wasn't an election last year."

kdoyle@herald.ie


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