Irish PM announces resignation as party leader

Irish PM announces resignation as party leader

DUBLIN (AP) - Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny announced Wednesday he is resigning as leader of the Fine Gael party, paving the way for his replacement as the country's head of government.

In a statement, Enda Kenny revealed he will "retire as leader from midnight tonight 17th May 2017".

"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 global reputation restored and strengthened", said Deputy Heydon.

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The prime minister of Ireland has said he is stepping down as leader of the Fine Gael party, kicking off a succession contest between two younger ministers.

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

Unsettled colleagues are banking on a new leader reviving their fortunes after falling marginally behind rivals Fianna Fail in most surveys. The latter alludes to Varadkar's plain-speaking manner, which supporters say could widen the party's appeal.

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Under party rules, Fine Gael's 73 lawmakers make up 65 percent of the vote with the balance split between councillors and ordinary members.

"I have asked that the Fine Gael Executive Council expedite this process and to have it concluded by close of business on 2 June".

Kenny is due to visit the USA and Belgium early next month in his final trips as Ireland's Taoiseach, or prime minister. In February, at a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party, he said he would deal with his future effectively and conclusively after St. Patrick's Day.

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