Updated: 22/02/17 : 04:50:21
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Kenny has options to stay as Taoiseach

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

ENDA KENNY can stay as Taoiseach after he quits as leader of Fine Gael.

The Dáil, and not any political party, decides the tenure of a Taoiseach.....and Ministers.

There are two precedents in Dáil history for a leader of the main party in government not also being Taoiseach.

Fine Gael did so from 1948 to 1951 and gave the country an encore from 1954 to 1957 when it returned to government.

Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin (maybe) teased around the edges of this little-known issue in the Dáil yesterday, Tuesday.

Did he know something or was he just teasing Government backbenchers to 'groan' even louder at the new possible permutation?

Delegate Convention

To remove Enda Kenny as Taoiseach, if he decides to stay in that post after being 'pushed' as party leader,  FG rebels would have to vote against him in the Dáil.

Such moves could lead to disciplinary action in their party and/or include deselection at a delegate convention.

To recap, Enda Kenny has long said he will not lead Fine Gael into the next election.

Enda Kenny has not yet told the Dáil of ANY such pathway re his post as Taoiseach.

Of course, that could change with a statement to the Dáil later tonight.

But Enda Kenny had the opportunity to do all that in last week's 'Confidence' vote, which he won.

So had his opponents the same opportunity; opponents both inside Fine Gael and in all other political parties.

All of the leadership contenders in Fine Gael voted 'Confidence' seven days ago in Team Kenny.

Translated, that could read as a renewed mandate for Enda Kenny as Taoiseach AND his current crop of Ministers from the party wannabes.

See Merit

Kenny's term as Taoiseach would naturally expire (a) with the effluxion of time and (b) terminate with the incoming Dáil appointing a new head of government after the next general election.

Even people outside Fine Gael see merit in Kenny staying on as Taoiseach to lead the opening phase of the (post) 'Brexit' negotiations on Ireland's behalf.

The alternative is, as has been suggested, is that Ireland change captains, pass the armband as the team leaves the dressing room. 

That specific stake -- namely, to change to a lesser experienced captain -- is as high as Fine Gael as a party can go in the period ahead.

Tear Up

In that circumstance don't tear up the Paddy Power dockets just yet on who will lead Ireland's team after the (post) 'Brexit' trigger by the Brits.

The '1948' precedent is unlikely to be unknown at the top in Fine Gael. Why?

Well, the current Government -- structurally -- is very similar to the 1948 and 1954 Fine Gael led 'inter party' coalitions.

Both of those saw a Fine Gael TD other than its party leader serve as Taoiseach; therefore the principle is NOT sacrosanct within the party

On the other hand, it may be that Enda Kenny goes ''quietly into that good night,'' to paraphrase poet Dylan Thomas and chooses not to ''rage against'' the dying light.

But, yes, Enda Kenny does have options to stay as head of Government while stepping down as leader of Fine Gael.