Early Declarations Made In FG Leadership Battle

It looks likely that the race to be the next Fine Gael leader will be a two-horse race.

Tanaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, and Education Minister Richard Bruton have ruled themselves out of the race to succeed Enda Kenny.

Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar has picked up his first support in Clare.

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Enda Kenny says he has no regrets after stepping down from his role as Taoiseach at midnight last night.

Already there’s a frantic pace to the campaign to succeed him – Housing Minister Simon Coveney has officially launched his bid to become the next leader of Fine Gael.

Standing outside the party’s HQ this morning, he said he wanted to heal the divisions that have opened in Ireland over the last decade.

The other expected candidate, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has yet to speak to the press but will launch his campaign Website later.

Minister Coveney is behind him in the polls so far.

It’s been a busy day of political announcements – T├ínaiste and Justice Minister Francis Fitzgerald says she’s out of the running and so too is Education Minister Richard Bruton, who has endorsed Leo Varadkar.

Meanwhile, the winner of the contest will appoint a new Finance Minister after Limerick TD Michael Noonan announced that he doesn’t want to be considered for cabinet any more.

He also won’t contest the next General Election.

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

Clarecastle TD Joe Carey hasn’t yet declared his chosen candidate and today, Minister of State Pat Breen declined to choose a favourite.

Ennistymon Senator Martin Conway has set out his stall however. He is backing Leo Varadkar, who is now the early frontruner.

Councillors and grass-roots Fine Gael members will also have their say in this contest which will come to an end on June 2nd.