Education Minister Richard Bruton has announced he will not be running in the Fine Gael leadership race but will instead be supporting Leo Varadkar, writes Elaine Loughlin of the Irish Examiner.
Speaking outside the Department of Education this morning, Mr Bruton said that after giving it consideration he had decided in the "last couple of hours" that he would not put his name forward, adding that both Simon Coveney and Mr Varadkar "offer the best opportunity at this time to provide leadership".
Mr Bruton said: "I find it very difficult to make the choice between Simon and Leo, both are very close friends of mine, both are in my view men of huge capacity and a proven track record.
"But in politics you have to make a choice and I have decided that I will be voting for Leo Varadkar as the candidate to lead Fine Gael in the future. I believe that he is decisive, he is reforming, he has great capacity to deliver and has shown a track record of doing that."
He added that Mr Varadkar has a "great capacity" to understand the frustrations that people feel with politics and has an insight into the challenges people feel in their lives.
"I will not be getting involved in any camps but I believe, it's important early on in the campaign the direction in which I will be casting my vote."
Mr Bruton denied that he had been promised any position at Cabinet by Mr Varadkar.
Mr Bruton said "decisive leadership is once again needed" adding that "we need that same imagination and drive to bring the country forward"
"I think we have created an opportunity now which I think we have seen before in Ireland where we stand on the verge, where there is a real opportunity and where we can build a string future for all people, changing people lives on the basis of a strong economy."