Fine Gael ministers hint at leadership bids

Earlier 9am: Simon Harris says his age wouldn't be a barrier to him running for the Fine Gael leadership.

Minister Harris replied by saying "telling amusing jokes" is clearly not one of the Minister for Foreign Affairs' better attributes.

Minister Flanagan and Minister Harris met jointly in Portlaoise last month with Laois County Councillors as Minister Flanagan attempted to make the case for the retention of services a Portlaoise hospital. "It was jovial Sunday afternoon banter and I regret it has been taken so seriously".

The Minister for Health is not ruling out a bid to become leader of Fine Gael.

Tánaiste Fitzgerald has said she wants to wait until after this week's parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday.

The Housing Minister made the remark despite insisting "we don't have a leadership contest that has kicked off yet" and taking a thinly-veiled swipe at Social Protection Leo Varadkar for pushing for Mr Kenny to resign quickly.

It's understood the issue was raised briefly at this morning's cabinet meeting.

Speaking to reporters at the launch of a Fianna Fáil tendering system reform Bill at Leinster House, Mr McGrath said his party is concerned the leadership issue may impact on the work of Government unless it is properly addressed.

Update 11.45am: Simon Harris says telling amusing jokes is not one of the Minister for Foreign Affairs' best attributes.

When asked if the Taoiseach should clarify if he is going to depart in four weeks, eight weeks or 12 weeks, he said that, "the Taoiseach has led Fine Gael for 15 years, he has led the country through a storm".

"I'm absolutely honoured to hold this position".

Similarly, asked about the upcoming St Patrick's Day White House meeting with United States president Donald Trump and whether the leadership issue has made Mr Kenny a lame duck and undermined the value of his visit, Mr McGrath said "it is a matter for Fine Gael to deal with any issue they may have".

He added: "My take on it would be that there's going to be a leadership change in Fine Gael".

"I think numbers of backbench TDs have lost great opportunities to keep their mouths shut", he said today.

"Up to now the process has been extremely untidy".

Varadkar and Coveney have both said Enda Kenny needs to stand aside after his visit to the White House for St Patrick's Day.

Alan Dukes has said leaking to the media from party meetings is foolish.

"It makes it very, very hard, if not impossible, to have a clear, rational debate, and it makes decision-making very, very hard indeed".

Kenny is expected to lay down his plans regarding leadership at a party meeting on Wednesday.

  • Zachary Reyes