Taoiseach refuses to discuss any departure plans

Earlier, Leo Varadkar declined to publicly call on Enda Kenny to step down

Taoiseach refuses to discuss any departure plans

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The Taoiseach has refused to discuss any plans for his departure - saying he is focused on his job as leader of the country.

Enda Kenny's comments came amid demands from his own TDs to give a timetable of when he intends to step down as party leader.

Fine Gael's vice-chairman Pat Deering has threatened a motion of no confidence next week if Mr Kenny has not announced a departure plan.

This evening, the Taoiseach refused to entertain any talk of retirement - and said he has plenty on his plate.

"I'm focusing entirely on a really busy and challenging agenda up ahead," he argued.

Earlier, the leading contender to be the next Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach declined to publicly call on Enda Kenny to step down.

But Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has referred to Mr Kenny's leadership of the party in the past tense.

Mr Varadkar been installed by the bookies as the favourite to be the new leader of Fine Gael.

Following him is Simon Coveney, Paschal Donohoe and Richard Bruton.

But in his first public appearance since a Parliamentary Party meeting on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar declined to directly call on Mr Kenny to go.

What is Enda Kenny's exit strategy?

But did refer to him in the past tense:

The Taoiseach himself has been getting on with the job.

At the end of the Finance Committee hearing about his departmental budget, he referred to the apparent end of his tenure.

Chairman John McGuinness said: "I know that these are difficult times and I want to wish you well, personally" - to which Mr Kenny simply replied: "C'est la vie".

The Taoiseach is being given space to decide what he will do over the coming days.

But it is clear if he does not outline a timeline for departure by next Tuesday, he will face a motion of no confidence at the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party the next day.