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'Distracting and destabilising': Leo Varadkar says 'everyone is waiting' on a decision from Enda

Regina Doherty thinks the Taoiseach should be given space to make his own decision.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

Updated 6.30pm

MINISTER FOR SOCIAL Protection, Leo Varadkar, has issued a statement this evening urging Taoiseach Enda Kenny to address the current leadership situation of Fine Gael.

He said that, although he has “full confidence” in Kenny to settle the issue, everyone was waiting to hear him have his say on if, and when, he will step down as Taoiseach and leader of the party.

He said: “Everyone is waiting to hear from the Taoiseach.

The current situation is distracting and destabilising for the government, the party and the country. I have full confidence in the Taoiseach to settle it.

Earlier today, Fine Gael’s Chief Whip said that she can “categorically guarantee” that there’s no orchestrated campaign to unseat Enda Kenny and replace him with a new leader.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Saturday with Claire Byrne, Regina Doherty called for Kenny to be given respect “as a human being” to make his own decision regarding his future.

90429330_90429330 Regina Doherty says Enda Kenny has her support to make his own decision. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

“He has done a tremendous amount for us in Fine Gael and just for that, if for no other reason, he deserves the due respect and regard to give him the bit of space to talk to his friends and his family to make decisions himself,” Doherty said.

“This man is an inherently decent man,” the Meath East TD added.

“At the very least have respect for him as a human being, let him go home to his family, his loved ones, his friends and close colleagues to have a conversation.”

The ongoing debate about Kenny’s future comes after his some party TDs have begun calling publicly for him to step down.

Alan Farrell TD yesterday called Kenny’s position “untenable” but Doherty said she was opposed to TDs putting ultimatums on front of the party leader.

“Don’t start this second guessing business or this even blackmailing business because it’s unedifying and actually we’re better than that,” she said.

In a move that was seen by many as a starting gun in the leadership contest, senior ministers Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney told the Fine Gael parliamentary party this week that members need to be prepared for an election should one arise.

Irish general election Ministers Frances Fitzgerald, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar. Source: Brian Lawless/PA Archive

Doherty denied, however, that she’s seen any evidence that either man is eager to begin the contest proper.

“From my interactions none of the declared, even though there are none declared, but the obvious candidates. They are not impatient in the sense of drawing them or putting markers down for next Wednesday,” she said.

Responding to reports that Varadkar was behind moves to have other TDs withdraw support for Kenny, Doherty says nothing so organised is taking place.

“There is no orchestrated campaign kicked off yet, I can absolutely categorically guarantee that. It hasn’t, I have not witnessed it.”

There may be people cuddled in corners, I had lunch with four people the other day and we laughed about saying we’ll get a bad name for sitting at this table. It’s at that level.

With reporting from Sean Murray

Read: How does Fine Gael go about electing a new leader? >

Read: ‘I’m focused on my job as leader of the country’: Kenny refuses to say when he’s stepping aside >

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Rónán Duffy

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