Phil Hogan tells FG party members: Be ready for election in November
FORMER Environment Minister and close confidante of the Taoiseach, Phil Hogan, has told a delegation of senior Fine Gael figures to be prepared for a November general election.
Mr Hogan, who is Ireland's European Commissioner, said it is essential the party is in gear for the prospect of an early poll.
He made the remarks on Monday night at a strategy meeting in Brussels, which was attended by up to 60 of the party's constituency organisers.
A number of organisers who were at the meeting told the Herald that Mr Hogan's contribution and suggestion of a November poll caused some surprise in the room.
"Certainly, it left the impression that a November election is now firmly on the cards. Phil obviously is close to the Taoiseach," one source told the Herald.
Mr Kenny privately told party colleagues at the Fine Gael think-in earlier this month that he is "unsure" over what course of action to take.
However, a growing number of Fine Gael ministers, TDs and senators are now of the view that Enda Kenny is preparing to call an election after the Budget.
It is thought within Coalition circles that Mr Kenny will not go to the polls early without consulting Joan Burton.
Ms Burton's Labour Party colleague, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, is known to be extremely keen for the Coalition to run its full term.
Mr Kenny was drawn on the prospect of an early election yesterday after former minister Ivan Yates claimed on Newstalk Breakfast, which he co-presents, that the election will be held on November 20.
"You can tell Ivan Yates I'll have a bet with him - and he'll lose," Mr Kenny quipped when asked about the remarks.
Meanwhile, bookmakers Paddy Power yesterday slashed the odds on the election taking place in November after receiving a flurry of bets.