ENDA KENNY has insisted he will stay on as Fine Gael leader even though the latest poll has shown the party is level with Fianna Fáil and nine points behind Labour.
Former Fine Gael education minister Gemma Hussey urged Mr Kenny yesterday to step down in the best interests of the party.
In a message posted on her Twitter social networking account, she wrote: “Will no one tell Enda (a good and decent man) to go quietly and gracefully? A new energetic team needed (keep Mi Noonan).”
In addition, a small group of councillors in Munster declared that Mr Kenny must quit “within a week”.
But Mr Kenny insisted he would not be considering his position.
“Most certainly not,” he replied when quizzed about the issue.
Asked if anybody had come to him urging him to step aside, Mr Kenny said: “Certainly not.
“Let’s make this clear: we’ve had three polls in six days – wildly fluctuating and volatile polls. I am not fixated about any polls.”
Asked if he still believed he would be the next Taoiseach, he replied: “Yes, I do intend to be the next Taoiseach. And I intend to provide the hardest-working Government in the history of the state, because that’s what it’s going to take to sort out this problem.”
He questioned why the media was asking about polls “the day after the Irish people were saddled with a €40 billion debt by bad decisions by a disgraceful Government”.
And he said he expected everybody in his party to focus on solutions to the economic crisis rather than polls.
He rejected suggestions by businessman Denis O’Brien that the party should consider a successor to the Tallaght Strategy – where in the late 1980s the then Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes supported the Government in making tough decisions to rescue the economy.
“Listen, I was a member of the Fine Gael party when we had Tallaght 1. The problem for Fine Gael at that time was that, while it was wonderful from a national perspective to support the Tallaght Strategy, Fine Gael had no power or influence over it and suffered at the polls as a consequence,” Mr Kenny said.
“As far as I’m concerned, if the advice had been taken that the Fine Gael party gave two years ago – if that advice had been taken by this Government – we would not now be in asdesperate a position as we are. (Thursday) was the biggest economic black day in this country’s history, and that came about because of bad decisions by a Government that wouldn’t listen to good advice.”
Mr Kenny said the Government’s plan to outline a four-year budgetary strategy in November would have no credibility because the markets knew the coalition wouldn’t last much longer.
But he conceded that by outlining such a strategy and presenting it to Brussels, the Government would effectively be forcing Fine Gael into sticking with the plan if it assumed power.
“Obviously, we have to face truth and reality here. And what Fine Gael have been working on in the past period is to prepare our plans to rectify this problem,” Mr Kenny said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved