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Bruton rules himself out and backs Varadkar
20 May 2017, 02:38 | Darnell Patrick
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny arrives for a meeting of the EPP prior to an EU sum
Senator Burke paid tribute to outgoing leader, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, for his outstanding work for the party over the past 15 years. So who would you vote for between Coveney and Varadkar?
Noonan's budgetary colleague Paschal Donohoe, 42, the minister for public expenditure, is widely seen as the favourite to replace him, although neither of the leading candidates to replace Kenny has said who they might appoint.
But Minister Coveney says despite this the campaign isn't over yet.
Simon Coveney hailed Mr Kenny as "a towering figure in modern Irish history" who took over Fine Gael when the party was "broken and demoralised".
Helen McEntee, another junior minister in Mr Varadkar's camp, said: "Look at the fresh new approach he has taken to politics, look at how he interacts with people, look at his vision for a more forward-thinking and open Ireland".
Local councillor Maria Doyle is also supporting the 38-year-old for the party leadership.
Mr Varadkar said he was staying for as long as the people wanted him.
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Mayo's third Fine Gael senator, John O'Mahony, is reported to be backing Minister Simon Coveney for the post.
Mr Donohoe listed Minister Varadkar's achievements, including the decision to go ahead with the Luas cross-city line, the Gathering, implementing the under-sixes and over-70s GP cards, and making the final decision on the National Children's Hospital, as well as extending maternity benefits and recognising the needs of the self-employed.
Meanwhile, Minister Varadkar has received the backing of the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton.
Other members of the parliamentary party have signaled they too will make their intentions known.
The campaign will run for just about two weeks, with the matter due to be settled by 2 June.
In another significant development that further signalled generational change within Fine Gael, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan announced he would not seek a place in the next cabinet and would not stand at the next election.
The taoiseach's decision to resign as leader of Fine Gael last night triggered a battle to succeed him.
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