Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Galway TD says Varadkar has groundswell of support across the west

With Michael Noonan and James Reilly announcing their decisions to step down as Minister for Finance and Deputy Leader of Fine Gael respectively, focus now turns to Leo Vardakar and Simon Coveney in the race for the Fine Gael leadership.

Supporters of Varadkar, Ireland's first openly gay minister, say his straight-talking manner could widen the party's appeal, an advantage his rival challenged on Thursday.

Simon has just one more name in his list of nominations and of the 14, one is current Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD.

The other expected candidate, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has yet to speak to the press but will launch his campaign Website later. "This country needs a leader for the 21st century and Leo is that person".

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"He has also made a substantial contribution to Limerick, and as minister I found him to be a constructive and supportive colleague in Cabinet". Junior ministers Damien English and David Stanton are also in the camp.

Deputy Peter Burke with Minister Leo Varadkar.

In the midst of declarations, Michael Noonan announced he would retire from politics at the next election.

Minister McHugh said he believed Minister Varadkar would be an outstanding leader of the country who understood issues affecting people right across the State and in particular Donegal. "Ireland is the fastest-growing economy in Europe, the budget is nearly balanced and we are on the cusp of full employment", he said.

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"I don't think that a family living in a hotel room this evening is looking for a Taoiseach (prime minister) with an X-factor", Coveney told reporters at his campaign launch, referring to the housing crisis Kenny's successor will inherit.

Mr Kenny's successor is due to be elected by the parliamentary party, rank-and-file members and councillors on June 2 with the new leader to be voted in as taoiseach in the Dail in subsequent days.

Mr Coveney's camp later claimed to have the support of 90% of the councillors in Cork and Kerry.

Here, Clare's Fine Gael representatives are considering their options on who will lead their party into the future.

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"I will not be seeking re-election to Dáil Éireann at the next General Election".

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