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Kenny: Comments were made to me about the top EU job, but 'that matter is now irrelevant'

The Taoiseach was speaking at a press conference with the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte who is in Dublin on an official visit today.

Enda Kenny and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte at Government Buildings this evening
Enda Kenny and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte at Government Buildings this evening
Image: Hugh O'Connell/TheJournal.ie

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has indicated that he was approached about running for the presidency of the European Commission previously but said this evening “that matter is now irrelevant”.

He was speaking at a press conference with the Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte who is in Dublin on an official visit today.

Kenny insisted that Fine Gael’s political grouping in Europe, the European People’s Party (EPP), has selected Jean-Claude Juncker as its candidate to succeed Jose Manuel Barroso as head of the Commission.

https://vine.co/v/MjhPDz2JOU6

But Kenny admitted in answers to questions that “there were comments made to me” about the possibility of being the EPP nominee. However he insisted “that matter is now irrelevant” in light of the selection of Juncker.

He said he was a “strong supporter” of the EPP’s selection of Juncker, adding: “We’ve had a congress, a contest, a vote and a candidate and that’s the official position we support.”

There is a dispute among EU countries over Juncker getting the top job in the Commission in the wake of the European elections where the EPP won the most seats in the European Parliament.

This was assumed to mean that Juncker would succeed Barosso, but his candidacy is vociferously opposed by Britain leading to speculation about alternatives candidates including the Taoiseach as well as the prime minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and the head of the IMF Christine Lagarde.

https://vine.co/v/MjhQgOZK7dV

Speaking at a brief but good-natured press conference at Government Buildings this evening, Rutte praised Ireland’s economic progress saying the country has not avoided “the tough decisions needed”.

“Ireland has travelled a long and difficult road in the last few years and the Netherlands applauds its commitment,” he said. 

On a legacy bank debt deal, Rutte said he was aware of the “intense debate on bank debt relief in Ireland” but said his focus was on getting the “instruments approved”.

This is a reference to the establishment of a banking union within the EU which it is hoped can be done by the end of the year.

Rutte said he would take it “step-by-step” without being firm on whether he supports a deal for Ireland on its legacy bank debt.

https://vine.co/v/MjhEa1bQtIU

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Hugh O'Connell

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