herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Enda meets rebels to defuse FG heave after poll disaster

EMBATTLED Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has met with several party rebels in an attempt to "mend fences".

As murmurings of a heave resurfaced in the main opposition party last night, Mr Kenny was carefully considering a backbench reshuffle.

He is expected to announce a new list of responsibilities for non-frontbench spokespersons later today in an effort to appease members.

A rump of TDs and senators are still very unhappy with Kenny's performance as the latest opinion poll showed the party slumping to just 24pc.

If the poll translates on Election Day, Fine Gael may end up finishing third in terms of seats, behind Labour and Fianna Fail.

As big hitters Michael Noonan and Dr James Reilly were playing down rumours of a fresh heave last night, others in the party were not so sure.

Opponents of Mr Kenny are now hoping that he will take stock of his own dwindling personal popularity and step aside for the sake of the party.

They want "the men in grey suits" to convince Mr Kenny that he has brought Fine Gael as far as he can.

In an attempt to keep tabs on the evolving situation, the troubled leader met with several party members yesterday.

While the main purpose of the meetings was the reshuffle of deputy spokespersons, the Herald understands Mr Kenny was also keen to talk openly about the volatile internal situation.

However, despite the olive branch, a number of TDs are devastate by the results of two out of three polls released in the past week.

They are still hoping Richard Bruton will be installed as party leader before the next election -- but it is not yet clear how he would assume the position.

"The obvious thing that people would like to see would be that Enda would step down but that's remains unlikely," a source told the Herald.

News of the opinion poll showing Mr Kenny's personal rating at just 25pc was met with stunned silence when it was announced during a parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday night.

However, Mr Noonan jumped to Mr Kenny's defence yesterday, saying he "absolutely" had full confidence in him and Fine Gael to succeed.

The finance spokesperson admitted that Labour "had a surge going at the moment" but maintained that Fine Gael would win more seats than it got at the last election.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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