Enda Kenny parks leadership question until after North's political crisis is resolved

Enda Kenny parks leadership question until after North's political crisis is resolved

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out resigning until after Northern Ireland's political parties form a new government - effectively delaying his already drawn-out departure until early summer, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Speaking to reporters at the St Patrick's Day New York City parade, the Fine Gael leader said that despite a widely-held belief that he would announce his resignation on his return from his week-long US trip, Northern Ireland takes "precedence" over everything else.

"What I've always said is that I need to deal with a number of priorities here, the first priority is to put in place an executive in Northern Ireland," he said.

"We have no government, no devolved authority in Northern Ireland now. I hope the parties who are elected will accept the responsibility of putting together a government within the three-week period.

"What I did say to my party is that I would deal with this effectively and conclusively on my return, that's my intention.

"But I think these are priorities that take precedence over everything else there. You can't have a situation where you don't have an executive in Northern Ireland and where we have to define from an EU point of view where Ireland will be."

Asked directly when he is "going to deal with it [the leadership question], Mr Kenny said: "I'm not going to answer that for you.

"I'll deal with that with my own parliamentary party, I talked to them before I came to New York, I'm telling you now that I have a number of immediate priorities on my desk when I arrive back tomorrow morning at 10am, and I will start work on those.

"May I refer the question to you - do you not think it's appropriate that the immediate priority is to have an executive functioning in Northern Ireland? Do you not think it's appropriate that all the work we put together we should have an agreed negotiating stance for the EU that's going to affect everybody in our country?

He added: "This has been a very successful trip, and I genuinely mean that.

"I intend to follow through on those very, very diligently."

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