Kenny will "definitely" not step down before May, MEP says

The Taoiseach is expected to outline a timeline for his departure

Kenny will "definitely" not step down before May, MEP says

Taoiseach Enda Kenny addresses staff at Bloomberg headquarters in New York | Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

A Fine Gael MEP expects the Taoiseach Enda Kenny will stay in office until at least May.

Mr Kenny is expected to outline a timeline for his departure from the role of leader of Fine Gael and Taoiseach at a parliamentary party meeting this Wednesday.

But comments he made in New York on St Patrick's Day about Brexit and Northern Assembly negotiations appeared to open the door to him staying in office longer than many expected.

Speaking in New York over the weekend, he said: "You can't have a situation where you have no leadership in Northern Ireland and where we have to define from a European Union point of view where Ireland will be, what the agreed terms of reference for the negotiations are."

Mr Kenny was pushed on a deadline for when he was going to deal with this issue - he replied: "I'm not going to answer that for you - I'll deal with my own parliamentary party".

While Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly says the Taoiseach is scheduled to be a guest speaker at a meeting of the European People's Party (EPP) bureau in May, and sometime after that would be 'appropriate and acceptable for him to step down'.

He told Newstalk Breakfast: "There will be a clear plan of departure, and I think that the vast majority of Fine Gael members and the parliamentary were quite happy to hear that and will give him time and space to make that happen."

On Stormont, Mr Kelly said: "If it were to take a long time and there was no progress that obviously would probably change the situation.

"But he is probably right to wait and see what will happen and to try and help get stability in Northern Ireland.

"He also has commitments in relation to other events: one of them is the EPP bureau meeting which I successfully bid for for Ireland this year, which is taking place in May - he's a guest speaker in that.

"So sometime I think after that would be probably appropriate and acceptable for him to step down."

He also said no one wants to be seen to be "pushing him out the door now just for the sake of it".

Asked if he saw May as a deadline for Mr Kenny to step down, Mr Kelly said: "Sometime after that yes, definitely not before it".