I’m here for the duration: Enda Kenny with some of his Senate and Dáil colleagues has vowed to serve a full term. RollingNews.ie photo.
By Evan Short
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who is due in Washington, D.C. this evening for the opening of a three week-long festival of Irish arts and culture at the Kennedy Center, has announced that he will see out his full term as taoiseach.
In news that will surprise senior members of Fine Gael – who had expected Mr. Kenny to relinquish his post after two years – he also confirmed that he will not lead Fine Gael into the next general election.
“I have always said that my intention would be to serve the full term, but not to lead the party into the general election,” he said.
“I’ve made that perfectly clear and that’s where I am but I have a lot of work to do in the meantime.”
The taoiseach has also said that Fine Gael will honor their agreement with Fianna Fáil, even though he is expecting disagreements between the two parties.
Mr. Kenny was speaking after a four-hour discussion with party members in Athlone about how the minority government would work.
Although there were concerns expressed at the meeting he described it as upbeat.
Fianna Fáil have agreed to back a minority-led Fine Gael government on “confidence and supply” issues.
As the taoiseach makes long-term plans, former Tanaiste Joan Burton has stepped down as leader of the Labour Party.
Burton said she wouldn’t be indicating any particular preference during the leadership succession contest.
Labour had its best ever general election in 2011, winning 37 seats; however, in February’s election the party returned with only seven seats.
Burton took over as Labour leader in 2014 but was unable to halt the party’s slide in the polls.
She was elected in her Dublin West constituency in February’s general election without reaching the quota.
Nominations for the new party leader will close at noon on Friday.
Former Minister Brendan Howlin has yet to show his hand on whether to stand for the leadership.
“As I’ve said this is not about anybody looking for a position anymore, this is about all of us working out how best we can individually and collectively resurrect a party that has been wounded, but by god we will resurrect,” he said.
One TD who looks certain to throw his hat into the ring is Tipperary TD Alan Kelly.
Speaking at Arbour Hill at Labour’s centenary commemoration in honor of James Connolly he said: “There’s a big challenge ahead for the party and we need to ensure that… our future is going to be a prosperous one.”
Mr. Kelly represented the Irish government at the recent 1916 commemorations held in New York.