Irish PM announces resignation as party leader

Enda Kenny is due to address the topic of his leadership when he speaks to the Fine Gael parliamentary party tomorrow evening.

"I would like to stress the huge honour and privilege that it has been for me to lead our party for the past 15 years, in opposition and into government on two successive occasions", Kenny said in a statement. He was due to step down at midnight to become acting party leader until a successor is chosen.

After 15 years at the helm, including two stints as Taoiseach, Mr Kenny wants the party executive to expedite hand over process by June 2 but stressed that he will continue to perform his duties as Taoiseach until a new leader has been elected.

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Leadership contenders Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar were both said to be expecting Kenny to announce his intention to leave on Wednesday, but if Kenny is to take a trip across the Atlantic, he could hold on to the reins until at least the summer recess. He also thanked his personal staff as well as his family.

Mr Kenny will remain on as Taoiseach until a new leader is elected.

"As leader of Fine Gael Enda Kenny has been a towering figure in modern Irish history and will be recognised as such over the coming days, weeks, months and years".

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Fine Gael's chairman, Martin Heydon, described Mr Kenny as a "compassionate, pragmatic and inclusive" leader.

The Taoiseach delayed the transition to a new leader, allowing him to attend the annual St Patrick's Day celebrations in the United States and meet President Donald Trump. The former refers to the way Coveney has raised his profile by trying to tackle a severe housing and homelessness crisis.

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