Republic of Ireland news

Enda Kenny 'should stay on as Taoiseach until June'

Enda Kenny should stay on as Taoiseach until June, a party colleague has said. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association
Staff Reporter

ENDA Kenny should remain as Taoiseach until June, the Republic's finance minister has said.

Michael Noonan said he expects Mr Kenny to stay in post until the primary principles of EU negotiations with the UK over Brexit are set.

However, he said Mr Kenny should remain as Taoiseach until the Republic's negotiating position is established in late May or early June.

Mr Noonan told RTÉ yesterday Mr Kenny's speech on US immigration last week showed his strength in international relations.

"His speech on immigration has been lauded internationally and to be able to make such a strong speech in the company of President Trump, when we know his position on immigration, shows how diplomatic the Taoiseach can be," he said.

"So certainly for the primary principles of the negotiations, which won't conclude until end of April/early May, the Taoiseach should be in position.

"But it's my own opinion that he should stay on for the second phase as well, until the details of Ireland's negotiations position have been established and have been signed off on, and that's the end of May, early June."

Minister for Housing Simon Coveney said he did not believe the Taoiseach's position had changed.

"I think anyone who knows the Taoiseach, anyone who is involved in Fine Gael's discussions in recent weeks, is expecting the Taoiseach to attend the first leaders' meeting after Article 50 is triggered, and that is what he's signalled his intent to do now," he said.

MEP Seán Kelly said "certainty" was needed from the Taoiseach regarding his plans, but he said "whether it's immediately or within a number of weeks, that's secondary".

He said he expects Mr Kenny to address the European People's Party conference as Taoiseach when it meets in Wicklow in May.

Speaking after marching in New York's St Patrick's Day parade last week, Mr Kenny said he remained focused on political instability in the north and the impact of Brexit.

"What I did say to my own party was I would deal with this matter effectively and conclusively, and that is my intention, but I think these are priorities that take precedence over everything else," he said.

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