Speculation grows over Fine Gael leadership

Enda Kenny is expected to outline a time frame for his departure

Speculation grows over Fine Gael leadership

Enda Kenny puts a Yes badge on Leo Varadkar's jacket while Simon Coveney looks on in 2015 | Image: RollingNews.ie

Speculation is mounting as to who will put themselves forward to be the next leader of Fine Gael.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to be given time over the weekend to set a timeline for his departure - or face a motion of no confidence early next week.

But some members of his own party are not waiting that long.

Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal, Alan Farrell, says the position of Mr Kenny is now "untenable".

In a statement, Deputy Farrell says: "I no longer have confidence in the ability of Enda Kenny to lead Fine Gael.

"Fine Gael, as a party in Government, requires a leader who can manage the party in a manner which inspires faith amongst the Parliamentary Party, our local representatives and the wider membership.

"While I sincerely thank An Taoiseach for the work he has done in rebuilding our party since becoming leader in 2002 and even more so for his incredible stewardship of the country since 2011, I believe it is now time for him to step aside and allow a new leader, with a fresh approach, to lead us into the future."

Speaking to Newstalk Drive earlier, Deputy Farrell explained: "I've carefully considered it, I didn't particularly want to send [the statement]. But because of the language being used - not by the Taoiseach, but by others as well - I was deeply concerned in relation to the future of our party and the direction in which we are heading.

"I did not consult with any of my colleagues whatsoever [...] There is nobody to back, because there is no leadership contest, there's no declared candidates," he added.

The Irish Times reports that a message from party chairman Martin Haydon this evening called on members of the party to refrain from commenting any further about Enda Kenny.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe earlier ruled himself out as a contender.

Others expected to put themselves forward include Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney, Simon Harris and Frances Fitzgerald.

Why Fine Gael's leadership will be a one-horse race

However, Mr Donohoe confirmed to Newstalk Breakfast he will not be a candidate, saying he is happy with the job he has.

"I'm aware of all of the speculation that is underway at the moment - but my decesion and my view on this matter is unchanged.

"I'm very lucky to be where I am - I've a job that I want the opportunity to keep on doing.

"And when the Taoiseach makes his mind up I expect others will do the same, too - but I'm very clear about where I stand at the moment.

"I will not be a candidate".

The clock is ticking on Enda Kenny's leadership | Image: RollingNews.ie

While Minister Coveney is looking to calm those who want a fast contest.

He told Ocean FM: "Lots of people want to get the excitement of a leadership campaign and so on underway.

"Enda has been here before, I don't think he'll be rushed by other people - he'll think about this and he'll make up his mind and I think he'll share that with the party when he's ready.

"And I don't think we should be trying to force that process, I think it would be wrong.

"The majority in the party in Fine Gael want to move on from a difficult week, to make sure the Government is stabilised and focusing on what we need to do.

"But also there's a recognition I think in the party that we are, at some point in the not too distant future, going to need to have a conversation as a party in terms of our preparation well in advance of any potential future election."

On Thursday, Minister Leo Varadkar refused to be drawn on the topic - choosing to praise Mr Kenny's leadership instead.