Ireland’s Taoiseach, Enda Kenny who has been the leader of the Fine Gael party for 15 years and the head of the Irish government since 2011, will not lead his party into the next election it is presumed. He has been under sustained pressure throughout the last month and in a recent meeting with Fine Gael TD’s he told them that he would deal with his future after he returned from Washington DC for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities and the traditional White House visit.
The news comes after the minority government narrowly survived a Dail vote of ‘no confidence’ tabled by opposition party Sinn Fein. That vote was prompted by the Taoiseach’s poor handling of the Garda Sgt Maurice McCabe scandal.
McCabe turned whistleblower and shone a light on corrupt practices with An Garda Siocchana. Documents published last month suggest a government agency helped senior police officers to circulate malicious gossip the falsely branded McCabe as a pedophile.
Kenny’s impending departure comes only weeks before Article 50 is triggered in the UK, signaling the start of complex divorce negotiations between the UK and the European Union. The Irish government wants a seat at the negotiation table because Brexit has the potential to derail the economies both in the Republic of Ireland and the North of Ireland. Brexit, itis feared, will also mean the return of a ‘hard border; between the two jurisdictions,has the potential to destabilize the twenty year peace process.
Fine Gael currently leads a minority government in Ireland, made up of their own TDs and an unlikely coalition of Independents. After an indecisive general election in 2016, Kenny formed the arrangement with the backing of Fianna Fail which said it would abstain from votes the government might otherwise lose.
Fine gael lost big last year winning only 50 seats, while Fianna Fail won 44 and Sinn Fein made gains to 23 seats. Polling suggest that Fine Gael TD’s would be further culled if an election was called soon. A poll published in February last by Ireland’s Sunday Independent revealed that Fine Gael’s support now stands at 25 percent, while Fianna Fail’s support has reached 33 percent. The Sinn Fein support remains at about 20 percent.The Labor party who was the partner with Fine Gael in the previous government run at only a 6 percent support.