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Ballinasloe to host Fine Gael regional leadership debate

20 May 2017

Ireland will have a new prime minister in June after Taoiseach Enda Kenny quit as leader of his party.

"I will retire as leader of Fine Gael effective from midnight tonight", Kenny said, opening the way for a swift leadership contest.

No formal announcement was made despite rumours to the contrary that party strategists were looking at dates in the second and third week of June.

He understands, as he said last week, the unique circumstances of Donegal, cut off from the rest of the North for most of the last century by partition, and cut off geographically and in other ways from the rest of the State.

Mr Varadkar said it had been his idea originally to extend voting rights for the leadership of Fine Gael to all the party's elected representatives.

"[I want] to open a conversation with people who don't support us, people who've lost faith in us, or people who've maybe never considered voting for Fine Gael".

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As to the future Cllr Mulhall said the party has "two good candidates" in Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney and there was talk of a third candidate.

Kenny led Ireland through a difficult recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis, which hit the debt-fueled "Celtic Tiger" economy particularly hard.

Mr Kenny's legacy includes leading Ireland out of a crippling recession, albeit with an agenda of austerity.

Given that there are 73 members of the parliamentary party at present, each member represents 0.9 per cent of the total electorate.

Galway Bay fm newsroom - Ballinasloe is to host one of four regional debates in the Fine Gael leadership contest.

Kenny was recently under pressure from party members dissatisfied with his leadership.

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"Having inherited a country and an economy that was decimated by mismanagement, Enda's strong leadership and ability to make hard decisions was recognised both at home and overseas and saw our worldwide reputation restored and strengthened".

Micheal Martin, the Fianna Fáil leader, described his rival as decent.

"It is time for a change in Fine Gael but there is no doubt that Enda Kenny brought stability, positivity, and energy to this country when we needed it most and I thank him sincerely for his time and service".

"I look forward to the next fortnight that I hope will reinvigorate the Fine Gael party and it's members".

The veteran politician's resignation follows more than six years at the head of government.

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Ballinasloe to host Fine Gael regional leadership debate