The Fine Gael backbencher at the centre of stamped-out plans for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to resign has told potential successors to go public with their ambitions if they want a change of leader.
Kerry TD Brendan Griffin told the Irish Examiner any fresh attempt to remove Mr Kenny now “requires” senior ministers seeking to replace him to express their real views, saying back benchers have done all they can to start the conversation.
Despite Mr Kenny being the subject of a planned motion of no confidence at the weekend, any plans for the motion to be tabled at Fine Gael’s parliamentary party meeting tomorrow were dashed yesterday after a string of senior Government ministers came out to back their party leader.
However, despite the situation, Mr Griffin — who is to date the only TD behind the potential motion to publicly call for Mr Kenny to resign — said that concerns remain among more than a dozen Fine Gael TDs.
Stressing the issue must be addressed at the party’s parliamentary party meeting tomorrow, the Kerry TD said it is now up to potential future leaders to go public with their ambitions as backbenchers cannot do any more to push the issue.
“I wouldn’t be saying names, but if people, ministers, are saying off the record that he should leave then they should have the courage to say the same on the record,” Mr Griffin said.
“There is a lot more at stake here than being held in high esteem by the current Taoiseach. What this requires now is for people who want to be leader to make their views known publicly.”
Mr Griffin added that he still wants to see “as much clarity as possible from the Taoiseach” tomorrow and for “TDs and ministers to be true to what they really think”.
Mr Griffin had earlier gone public with his call for Mr Kenny to step aside on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland programme, saying he “doesn’t trust” Fianna Fáil not to take advantage of the leadership issue before the upcoming budget.
Speaking to this newspaper, a number of backbench TDs accepted Mr Kenny’s leadership is safe for now.
However, they said they remain convinced he will have to step down either over the summer break, the autumn or at Christmas in preparation for a likely election next year.
Cork South West TD Jim Daly — rumoured to have been one of the six TDs seeking the now shelved motion against Mr Kenny — confirmed “I don’t expect one [a motion] to be put down” before adding “this week” in reference to the fact the matter still needs to be addressed.
Louth TD Fergus O’Dowd, who called for a discussion on the party’s leadership last week, said it would be “entirely inappropriate and wrong” for any motion to be put forward now.
However, he added that it is important Mr Kenny outlines his position “sooner rather than later” and that “the party should reflect on this over the summer”.
Wexford TD Michael D’Arcy, a vocal critic of the Taoiseach, said “I don’t support any division” in the party and that Mr Kenny’s departure “is up to him”.
A number of other TDs said the Taoiseach should step aside soon, with one adding: “It’s time for people to make a decision, enough is enough. We’ve pointed the conversation at this stage, it’s now a matter for the contenders to do something rather than do whatever.”
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