Ireland's PM steps down as Fine Gael leader

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Quoting our article, Cllr Doyle said: "I have a huge amount of respect for both Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar".

He added: "Most importantly, I want to take the country forward". In a coming-out speech he gave in a radio interview, he said: "It's not something that defines me".

Her predecessor David Cameron said Mr Kenny "was a strong leader for Ireland, a great partner for the United Kingdom, and remains a good friend".

Mr Coveney has said he is not panicked by the numbers declaring for Mr Varadkar and believes he will win the contest.

"I made this decision some time ago and I'm confident that Leo Varadkar is the right person who can lead Fine Gael and Ireland into the next generation of politics".

He has led the center-right Fine Gael party for 15 years and been prime minister since 2011.

Ireland's prime minister, Enda Kenny, who helped steer the country out of recession following the global financial crash, has announced that he is stepping down as the leader of his Fine Gael party.

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Mr Coveney, from Cork, has also held a number of ministries but faces weekly criticism of his efforts to tackle the country's unprecedented housing and homelessness crisis.

In a statement, Mr Kehoe said Mr Varadkar's "capacity to build a strong support base is testament to his willingness to work with party colleagues". Under Fine Gael rules the parliamentary party commands 65 per cent of the votes, with councillors getting 10 per cent and the 21,000 members 25 per cent.

Two candidates have so far declared an interest in becoming the next party leader and, by default, the next prime minister for the remainder of what is widely considered to be a fragile government.

The latest member of the parliamentary party to back Mr Varadkar is the Limerick County TD Tom Neville.

Fine Gael lawmakers and councillors make up 75 percent of the vote, with ordinary members accounting for the balance.

Mr Coveney set out his stall for the leadership during his first interview of the campaign on RTÉ's Prime Time last night.

As the only Fine Gael government TD in this constituency, I believe it is important for the people of this area to have access to the taoiseach and for me to have a good working relationship with the candidate.

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