Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Joe McHugh declares his support for Leo Varadkar for Taoiseach

Senator Burke paid tribute to outgoing leader, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, for his outstanding work for the party over the past 15 years.

Speaking at a Fine Gael parliamentary party this afternoon, he announced the end of his 15-year tenure as leader, triggering a contest to replace him that will conclude by Friday, June 2.

Michael Noonan has announced his intention to step down as Finance Minister and that he will not be seeking re-election at the next General Election.

"He has a rare combination of intellect and judgment that I believe make him the best person to lead Ireland as we deal with new risks, and make the most of some great opportunities".

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Mr Kenny had been a "strong and consistent friend" to her country.

Kenny is the longest serving TD in Leinster House he has been a member of Dail Eireann since 1975.

In a statement he says he has learned a lot from Enda and his legacy will be far-reaching.

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Since then his Fine Gael-lead coalitions have survived years of political turbulence and mass protests against austerity.

Her predecessor David Cameron said Mr Kenny "was a strong leader for Ireland, a great partner for the United Kingdom, and remains a good friend".

He added that he will "continue to carry out my duties and responsibilities as taoiseach" until his replacement.

Varadkar has said he has more support among those yet to declare while Coveney, whose father was a Fine Gael minister during the 1980s and brother is chief executive of foodmaker Greencore, has said the race is "very, very close".

Thanks to Enda Kenny, Fine Gael has an abundance of talented representatives, who have an ever increasing experience of governing.

"I don't think that a family living in a hotel room this evening is looking for a Taoiseach (prime minister) with an X-factor", Coveney told reporters at his campaign launch, referring to the housing crisis Kenny's successor will inherit.

As the leadership contest enters its second day more members of the parliamentary party, including a number of other senior ministers, are due to indicate who they are supporting in the contest.

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