Ireland to get new leader as Enda Kenny steps down

It will bring to an end a six-year spell as Taoiseach and a campaign will now begin to a new Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach before June 2.

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 a year ago as voters complained they were not feeling the recovery.

In a statement announcing his retirement, he said it had been a "huge honour and privilege" to lead the party over the course of 15 years.

FILE - In this Saturday, April 29, 2017 file photo, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny arrives for a meeting of the EPP prior to an European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium.

"[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".

But at a parliamentary election previous year, Fine Gael suffered a backlash from voters who felt the recovery was passing them by.

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Mr Kenny made his announcement at a brief parliamentary party meeting where some supporters were said to have been visibly upset at his long-awaited plans for departure. Kenny has led the party since 2002.

But at a parliamentary election past year, Fine Gael suffered a backlash from voters who felt the recovery was passing them by.

The leading contenders to replace Mr Kenny as Fine Gael Leader and Taoiseach are Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar and Minister for Housing Simon Conveney. "I have chose to implement this decision today", Kenny said in a written statement posted on his Twitter account.

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

Dubliner Varadkar is now the clear favourite with the bookies to succeed Enda Kenny as Fine Gael boss, though political sources say it is way too early to call.

Enda Kenny and Peter Burke. "No one deserves it more", he told the Democrat last evening. The parliamentary party will have 65% of the vote, the councillors will have 10%, and the general membership, which is bigger in Cork than Dublin, has the remaining 25%.

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