Defiant Enda Kenny tells party he’s not afraid of ultimatums

A defiant Enda Kenny has told the Fine Gael party that he is not afraid of motions of no confidence or ultimatums after over 40 years in politics.

The Taoiseach also told a party meeting last night that he will not be swayed by “caucuses or statements”, after recent threats to topple him. Mr Kenny arrived late to the Leinster House meeting and put down several pages of notes before he spoke to TDs, senators and MEPs.

Sources present said he was stern and to the point during his address, which came after his commitment to respond to party calls for him to set out when he would resign.

He told members that he had “good judgement” and over 40 years of experience in politics. He also said Fine Gael members needed to think about how they wanted to “hand the party over” and should not tear themselves apart.

Mr Kenny outlined a series of commitments he had in the US around St Patrick’s Day and said he would give a timeframe on his resignation when he returns after that trip, sources said. He said he would deal with the matter of the leadership “conclusively” on his return.

One rebel TD said Mr Kenny was “defiant” and that he was “not afraid” of motions or “ultimatums” and had seen them before.

At one stage, Mr Kenny also said he hoped party secretary and TD Noel Rock would take notes “accurately”, a statement viewed by colleagues as a dig at the young Dublin TD who previously called for the Taoiseach to clarify his position on the leadership.

Mr Kenny stuck to his script during most of the speech, which observers said was unusual as he usually spoke without notes.

Frustrated members said the speech and its aftermath seemed well orchestrated and it was difficult for those present to speak afterwards when the agenda was moved on quickly. However, the speech, which lasted only eight to 10 minutes, shocked some present.

“You could see the blood drain from people’s faces,” said a party source.

“Their heads dropped and Leo [Varadkar] looked particularly pale,” a member added. An extensive round of applause then followed before members moved onto other topics.

Members said Mr Kenny left the impression that he was “out for war” and ready for any confrontation but overall had managed the situation well.

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