Varadkar and Coveney tell FG TDs to get ready for a General Election 'sooner rather than later'

Both of Fine Gael's leadership contenders - Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar and Minister for Housing Simon Coveney - have both told Fine Gael TDs to be on an election footing, writes Daniel McConnell of the Irish Examiner.

They have said TDs need to get ready for a General Election.

Addressing a key meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party in Leinster House, both Mr Varadkar and Mr Coveney admitted the events of the past week had damaged the party.

During the course of his speech, Mr Varadkar described Garda whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe as a “hero”.

During his intervention, Mr Coveney said the immediate need was for the party to stand united. But he warned an election was likely “sooner rather than later”.

Mr Varadkar called for another party meeting early next week, which may saw as significant in the context of the leadership.

For his part, an embattled Taoiseach Enda Kenny told party members that the past week has “not been easy” for him, as the Government stumbled its way through the controversy over the alleged smear campaign against Sgt McCabe by senior Gardaí.

Mr Kenny’s leadership of Fine Gael is under fresh scrutiny after he admitted he made up a conversation with Childrens' Minister Katherine Zappone on national radio.

It is understood that Mr Kenny told TDs that a public inquiry into the controversy was the best way to deal with the McCabe saga.

At one stage, a visibly shaken Kenny said he wanted to get “down to the chamber”, understood to be a reference to the Dáil motion of confidence in the Government which is scheduled for tonight.

Fine Gael chairman Martin Hedyon, urged the meeting that: “United we stand, divided we fall.”

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