Kenny resigns as FG leader

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny on Wednesday said he will step down once a new leader for his Fine Gael party is elected by June 2 at the latest.

Whenever that new leader is chosen.

In a statement on his way into a parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday evening, Kenny said he would continue as prime minister pending the election of his successor.

A Clare Fine Gael TD says it's important the Taoiseach clarifies his leadership intentions today.

Mr Kenny added that during this process he will "continue to carry out my duties and responsibilities as Taoiseach in full".

When asked if he was close to Mr Kenny, he said on a personal capacity they got on very well.

Under his leadership, Ireland appeared to stand up to the Vatican introducing gay marriage rights and abortion in limited circumstances.

However, voters have seen painful tax hikes under Mr Kenny's administration - with unprecedented levels of homelessness and a series of crises involving police corruption and negligence.

He said:"Having inherited a country and an economy that was decimated by mismanagement, Enda's strong leadership and ability to make hard decisions was recognised both at home and overseas and saw our global reputation restored and strengthened".

Mr Kenny's announcement brings to an end months of speculation about his departure, prompted by his own admission that he would not lead Fine Gael into the next general election.

Both Mr Varadkar, the Minister for Social Protection, and Mr Coveney, the Minister for Housing, are expected to formally launch their campaigns in Dublin on Saturday.

Other outsiders include Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Education Minister Richard Bruton, who launched a failed bid to oust Mr Kenny back in 2010. The two are seen as the early frontrunners to succeed Mr Kenny. The survey shows Mr Varadkar has 20 per cent of the available votes among TDs, Senators, MEPs and councillors, while Mr Coveney has 14 per cent. The remaining 25 per cent is allocated to party members.

Last week his role on the global stage continued when he held talks with European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier at Government Buildings in Dublin.

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