LATEST: Media making too big a deal of Fine Gael leadership, says Charlie Flanagan

Update 2.35pm:The Foreign Affairs Minister has hit out at the media coverage of Fine Gael's leadership.

Charlie Flanagan (pictured) denied it was getting in the way of Government work and said the media was making it a bigger deal than it is.

Earlier his cabinet colleague Denis Naughten claimed the issue could cloud cabinet progress if it is not sorted soon.

But Charlie Flanagan thinks it has no bearing on what the Government as a whole is doing.

“This issue is certainly distracting the media. I’m getting on with my work, I’m not distracted. None of my government colleagues are distracted and it is important that the reality of our work is fully reflected in media engagement.”

UPDATE 11.50am: The communications minister Denis Naughten says the Fine Gael leadership battle will cloud government if it is not resolved quickly.

Mr Naughten believes Enda Kenny should outline his position soon.

The Taoiseach is due to brief the Fine Gael parliamentary party this evening about his future.

The minister says clarity is needed.

"It is important that there is a timetable set out in relation to this.

"It will cloud government if this isn't clarified and I expect the Taoiseach will do that later today."

UPDATE 9am: The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed says the impending Fine Gael leadership race is not impacting on the Government.

The potential party reshuffle has been labeled a "distraction" from the whistleblower scandal.

But Mr Creed claims it has been business as usual.

"I don't see the paralysis," he said.

"I had engagement with the Taoiseach on fisheries matters, I had cross departmental engagement with other cabinet members, and the business of Government got on.

"I see colour pieces in today's paper talking about the same theme, but it's widely at variance with the experience I've had."

Mr Creed says the issue of the leadership of Fine Gael is a matter for the party and nobody else.

Earlier:The Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to outline to Fine Gael TDs and Senators tonight his plans to step down as party leader in the coming months.

However, it is not clear if Mr Kenny will set out a definite timetable for his departure or if his announcement will be enough to stop a motion of no confidence being put down in his leadership.

It is barely a week since Mr Kenny's leadership of Fine Gael again came into question, but he will address it at tonight's Parliamentary Party meeting.

Some backbenchers and the leading contenders to replace him expect Mr Kenny to outline some form of a timeline for his departure.

When the meeting takes place this evening what is not at all clear is that he will indicate an exact timeline.

He will outline how he wants to visit the White House next month and begin the Brexit talks, which will probably kick off in April.

If his choice of words are not to the liking of a gang of TDs who would like him replaced quickly, then there is the possibility he will face a motion of no confidence in his leadership at next week's meeting.


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