Irish PM says will deal with issue of his leadership next month: Party

Aidan Crawley | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Enda Kenny, Ireland's prime minister.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny told unsettled members of his ruling Fine Gael party that he would conclusively deal with the issue of his leadership after meeting the U.S. president next month, the party's chairman said on Wednesday.

Kenny — who has already said he will not lead the party into an election due as early as next year — has faced growing calls to clearly spell out his plans as support for the party slumped amid the government's mishandling of a policing scandal.

One of the two top contenders to take over the centre-right party, Simon Coveney, had said a new leader should be chosen after Kenny's trip to Washington for the annual meeting with the U.S. president to mark St. Patrick's Day on March 17.

"The Taoiseach (prime minister) has addressed the issue. He has told us he will outline his intentions effectively and conclusively shortly after his return from the U.S.," Fine Gael party chairman Martin Heydon said in a statement.

Kenny stopped short of giving an exact timeline, but one source present, who asked for anonymity as the meeting was private, said there was a "clear indication" that the 20-day leadership contest would begin the week following the trip.

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