Updated: 17/05/17 : 06:10:55
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to announce the timeframe of his stepping down as Fine Gael leader when his parliamentary party meets this evening thereby triggering the contest to succeed him.
While party sources are remaining somewhat tight lipped several senior members have raised doubts about whether he will actually outline a clear strategy for allowing a new leader to take over.
It was widely anticipated the Taoiseach would set a timeline of June 6/7 for the leadership election.
However, he has now committed to a US trade mission from June 4-6 and is expected to attend a memorial service for the centenary of the Battle of Messines in Belgium on June 7.
A number of ministers told the Irish Independent
that if Mr Kenny stalled the transition process any longer it could seriously harm the party.
"People have given him plenty of time and space. He is pushing it now with all the mind games," said one minister.Another suggested that TDs could take matters into their own hands and renew the threat of a damaging no-confidence motion.
Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney are ready to launch their election campaigns this week if Mr Kenny sets a date. Richard Bruton and Frances Fitzgerald both say they are still considering their positions.
According to The Irish Times,
a plan to keep the forthcoming contest 'clean' will mean candidates are to be compelled to sign up to a “fair play contract”.
A document will be drawn up by the party hierarchy over the coming days if Mr Kenny stands aside as party leader today.