Fine Gael leadership contest on hold

Enda Kenny has signaled he will step down by Easter

Fine Gael leadership contest on hold

Enda Kenny at the annual Fine Gael Think-In in 2016 | Image:

The contenders to replace Enda Kenny as Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach are effectively putting off their campaigns for a month.

It follows a defiant performance by the Taoiseach at the Fine Gael Parliamentary party meeting last night.

Enda Kenny did signal that he will step down by Easter, but only after rounding on his critics and launching an attack on the camps within the party.

he made a relatively short speech at a gathering behind closed doors in Leinster House on Wednesday.

He stated that he wanted to go to the White House on St Patrick's Day and would deal with the issue of his leadership shortly after his meeting with the US President Donald Trump.

As expected, he provided no specific date for his departure - however, he appears to have fought off any immediate motion of no confidence.

Speaking Wednesday night, Parliamentary Party chairman and Kildare South TD Martin Heydon insisted the matter is over for now.

"A very unified part coming out of this Parliamentary Party meeting - and the thing about Fine Gael is we're a diverse group and people have different views.

"And unlike other political parties, our members fell free to speak their mind and that's not a bad thing in some respects.

"And I'm very happy after tonight's meeting that we have clarity from the Taoiseach around his position, and that we have a party that's united moving forward and the very important work in front of us".