An angry Enda Kenny lashed out at media questions over his pending departure at a frosty press conference in Montreal last night.
Responding to questions from the Irish Examiner, on behalf of the Irish media, Mr Kenny got annoyed at being asked about when he intends stepping down as Taoiseach.
“I can’t believe actually that you have travelled this distance to ask a question like that,” he said sharply. “I have come here to meet with the Canadian prime minister and Canadian business to explore the opportunities that exist across the Atlantic for the creation of jobs and investment and to the benefit of Canadians and Irish people. That is my business here. Next question.”
When it was explained to him that the question was being asked on behalf of all Irish media, Mr Kenny replied: “I just said to you I can’t believe you have travelled this distance to ask a question like that.”
Later, a spokesman for Mr Kenny said he utterly refuted any notion that the Taoiseach had been angry or had lashed out at anybody.
Mr Kenny’s comments come as the Irish Examiner confirmed that a number of hotels across the country have been booked for May 26 to facilitate the vote of a new leader.
In the strongest indication to date that Mr Kenny’s departure from office is imminent, local Fine Gael organisations are preparing themselves to enable the vote for a new leader for the first time since 2002.
In Montreal, Mr Kenny also delivered a rebuttal to comments from French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron that Ireland’s corporation tax rates would have to rise.
Mr Kenny said Ireland’s 12.5% corporation tax rate is “our business”.
Meanwhile, the Independent Alliance have set down a marker to the next leader of Fine Gael by demanding they stay in their current ministerial positions. The five members of the Alliance do not want a redrafting of the programme for Government but could look for some issues to be added.
Transport Minister Shane Ross said the group has “no intention” of demanding “all sorts of new things” but wants to “reflect and to talk to the new leader and to implement new ideas”.
Asked about a potential reshuffle after Mr Kenny stands aside, Mr Ross said: “Personally, I am perfectly happy where I am.”
This was echoed by the other Alliance members, including Disabilities Minister Finian McGrath: “I am really delighted where I am in the ministry, and I definitely need the three years to get some things done.”
Meanwhile, OPW Minister Sean Canney will be replaced on June 2 by fellow Independent Alliance TD Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran.
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