Taoiseach to face FG colleagues for first time since calls for his resignation

Enda Kenny not expected to face any confidence at parliamentary meeting

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will today come face-to-face with backbenchers suggesting he quit as Fine Gael leader.

But Mr Kenny is not yet expected to set out a timeline for his resignation, despite calls on him to step aside over the summer break.

There were indications earlier this week that the Taoiseach could face a motion of no confidence at tonight's meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party.

The leadership question does not feature, however, on the agenda for the meeting.

Tonight will nonetheless be an opportunity for TDs to raise grievances about the direction of the party, amid concerns that a snap election could be called. 

It comes after Kerry backbencher Brendan Griffin called for a new leader to be elected by September, citing the need to be prepared for a possible election.

In a statement on Monday, Mr Griffin said Fine Gael "would be decimated" and Fianna Fáil "would most likely return to power in large numbers” if Mr Kenny’s successor was chosen during an election campaign.

He said he would have "major fears for the progress we have made as a country in recent years in that event".

Ministers' support

Mr Kenny has previously stated he will not lead Fine Gael into the next election. However, a number of backbench TDs are understood to want a clear date set for his departure.

Senior party figures publicly rowing in behind Mr Kenny include Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, who was tipped in a recent poll as the voters' favourite to replace him.

Mr Varadkar last week criticised calls for Mr Kenny to stand aside, saying his colleagues should instead focus on getting "down to business".  

Minister for Education Richard Bruton also said he thought it "a mistake" to raise questions over the Taoiseach's leadership.

Mr Bruton, who led a failed heave against his party colleague in 2010, told Newstalk Breakfast on Monday that calls for a new Fine Gael leader were misjudged.

“I believe very strongly that now is not the time to challenge the leadership of Enda Kenny. It is not in the country’s interests,” he said.

Another supporter is Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, who said the Taoiseach is a leader Ireland cannot afford to lose just yet.

"I think the country and the party are fortunate to have Enda Kenny as Taoiseach now," he said. 

"He led the government which took the country out of the biggest crisis it had in two generations."