Following a meeting of the Fine Gael front bench this morning nine members held a press conference on the front plinth of Leinster House (parliament) to announce they have no confidence in the party leader Enda Kenny.
The nine frontbenchers included Denis Naughten, Olwyn Enright, Fergus O'Dowd, Simon Coveney, Brian Hayes, Leo Varadkar, Michael Creed, Billy Timmins and Olivia Mitchell.
Denis Naughten, acting as spokesperson for the group, said they, along with Richard Bruton who was sacked yesterday evening, no longer had confidence in the party leader. He said that there were two other members, who he would not name, who may come forward to join their group.
The group met with Richard Bruton in a hotel on in south Dublin before the party meeting to discuss the situation.
Mr Kenny speaking to the state broadcaster said that he saw their move as a “serious political challenge”.
“In all of the elections I have fought – under my leadership, we’ve gained votes and seats and there is no other valid test of political leadership other than electoral results. And, on Thursday, I expect to win this contest and win it well”. The motion of confidence in his leadership will be decided on Thursday.
Mr Kenny said “It is about leadership and I am the candidate with a proven record of leadership in showing generosity in using people’s talents to the full and I will do that for our party next week.”
The morning meeting of the party ended in disarray with after a 20-minute speech from Mr Kenny which the dissident group referred to as a rant. They also said that he shutdown the meeting by leaving with his supporters. During the speech he criticized Mr Bruton and the some other front bench members.
This was the last meeting of the party before the motion of confidence in his leadership will be decided by a parliamentary meeting of 70 people.
The nine who have come forward to declare their lack of confidence in Enda Kenny’s leadership believe that the others will join them over the coming days.
Speaking on the state broadcaster yesterday Richard Bruton said “There are many opinion polls and ratings of his leadership and many occasions on which he has faltered at crucial times – and we do need people’s confidence now.”