"This is not a time to mess around" - Taoiseach says he will not allow destabilisation

Enda Kenny says Ireland is facing unprecedented challenges

"This is not a time to mess around" - Taoiseach says he will not allow destabilisation

Taoiseach Enda Kenny heads into a meeting with his parliamentary party at the Keadeen Hotel in Newbridge, Co Kildare | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny says now is "not the time to mess around" with party politics, as Fine Gael backbenchers continue to speculate on his position.

But Mr Kenny failed to say explicitly whether he would face down a motion of no confidence if one was tabled against him.

He rounded on rebel backbenchers still questioning his leadership.

A small number of backbench TDs continue to insist Fine Gael must at least examine the leadership of the party after the budget.

As the Fine Gael think-in drew to a close, the Taoiseach insisted he has a mandate and suggested this debate was de-stabilising the government.

"I've a mandate from the Oireachtas as Taoiseach...in the most challenging times that our country has seen for a very long time.

"We have the international outcome of the Apple decision by the European Commission, we have the confusion, the concern and the fear over Brexit, we've got to put through a budget for 2017.

"I've got issues to deal with - north inner-city Dublin, with he Citizens Convention with the 8th amendement, with serious challenges on housing and homelessness, with serious challenges in the justice area, with serious challenges in the health area and the education sector and so many others.

"I have not and have no intension of walking away from my mandate in that regard."

But he refused to say explicitly whether he would hang tough if he was challenged by others in the party.