Irish PM Enda Kenny to deal with 'leadership' question after Washington trip

Image source, AFP
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There had been speculation Mr Kenny would face a motion of no confidence at the meeting but that did not happen

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has said he will deal with the question of his leadership "effectively and conclusively" after returning from Washington next month.

He made his comments during a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Wednesday.

Mr Kenny will travel to the US for the annual St Patrick's Day celebrations.

He will continue the tradition of presenting the US president with a shamrock.

There had been speculation he would face a motion of no confidence at the meeting but that did not happen.

The speculation was that a no confidence vote would result from his handling of a police whistleblower controversy.

The controversy began more than three years ago when two whistleblowers - Sgt Maurice McCabe and the now retired John Wilson - alleged there was widespread corruption with the Republic of Ireland's driving licence penalty points system.

A public inquiry is to be held into whether Sgt McCabe was falsely smeared by senior officers in the An Garda Síochána (police).

There will also be an independent review of police operations.

Analysis BBC News NI's Dublin Correspondent Shane Harrison

Questions had been raised about Mr Kenny's future arising from his government's handling of the Gardai whistleblower affair last week.

The Taoiseach had indicated that he would stand down as Fine Gael leader before the next general election but many in his party, were fearful last week that the country could face a general election because of the whistleblower affair with him still leader.

Mr Kenny received a standing ovation at tonight's short meeting, and faced no questions from his TDs, Senators and MEPs after he outlined his decision.

Last week, the Irish coalition government - which is made up of Fine Gael and the Independent Alliance - survived a vote of no confidence in the Irish parliament (Dáil).

The government won the motion by 57 votes to 52 votes and there were 44 abstentions.

The Fine Gael leader was re-elected as taoiseach (prime minister) in May 2016, 70 days after a general election which had produced no outright winner. He was the first Fine Gael taoiseach to be re-elected to office after a general election.

Mr Kenny became leader of Fine Gael in 2002 and was first elected taoiseach in 2011.