Ballinasloe to host Fine Gael regional leadership debate

Leo Varadkar has said that the contest for the Fine Gael leadership is "not over" and he is "not counting his chickens".

He told his party he would remain as leader for a "brief but appropriate period" to facilitate a leadership contest.

He added: "We are now at a crossroads as a country".

He said he wanted a new social contract and everyone should have equal opportunity.

"I would say our Taoiseach is going out on a high. So long as the people want me".

And he promised to reveal a series of policy papers over the coming days.

It's as there's been a groundswell of support in the west and northwest for Minister Leo Varadkar to succeed Enda Kenny.

Cllr Mulhall said the rural connection and Minister Coveney's time in the Department of Agriculture is a factor in his choice of the Cork TD over the Dublin TD.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast earlier, the Public Expenditure Minister described Varadkar as "the most substantial and capable politician of my generation".

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The other is Simon Coveney, the housing minister, who is the son of former Fine Gael minister Hugh Coveney.

He added: "Having inherited a country and an economy that was decimated by mismanagement, Enda's strong leadership and ability to make hard decisions was recognised both at home and overseas and saw our worldwide reputation restored and strengthened".

Justice minister Frances Fitzgerald and education minister Richard Bruton may also run for the leadership.

While Noonan and Kenny have been widely praised for their management of the economy, their Fine Gael party lost a quarter of its seats at elections previous year as voters complained they were not feeling the recovery.

Mr Coveney has supporters including Health Minister Simon Harris and Senator James Reilly.

Mr O'Donovan said he believed the Minister for Social Protection had the best attributes for the job.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Wednesday he would step down as leader of his party and the country, leaving it to his successor to try to minimize any damage caused by the departure of its neighbor, the United Kingdom, from the European Union. He also travelled to Canada for talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"[I want] to open a conversation with people who don't support us, people who've lost faith in us, or people who've maybe never considered voting for Fine Gael".


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