Irish leader Enda Kenny stepping down as head of his party

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But when asked whether Enda Kenny would be addressing the leadership issue at this meeting, the Fine Gael Press Office and Government Press Office both refused to comment on the matter.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Wednesday he would step down as leader of his party and the country, leaving it to his successor to try to minimize any damage caused by the departure of its neighbor, the United Kingdom, from the European Union.

"As leader of Fine Gael Enda Kenny has been a towering figure in modern Irish history and will be recognised as such over the coming days, weeks, months and years".

He released a statement on twitter and said "Last year I indicated that I would not lead the FG Party into the next general election".

Kenny said Fine Gael would name his successor no later than June 2.

The Taoiseach delayed the transition to a new leader, allowing him to attend the annual St Patrick's Day celebrations in the U.S. and meet President Donald Trump.

"Enda Kenny will be remembered as the Taoiseach (prime minister) of the government that brought the country back from the brink".

The veteran politician, from Castlebar, Co Mayo, is to resign after 15 years at the helm of the party and more than six years at the head of government.

Kenny led Ireland through a difficult recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis, which hit the debt-fueled "Celtic Tiger" economy particularly hard. Opinion polls have shown public support at almost identical levels for the two parties, making it likely either would have to rely on a coalition of minor parties and independent lawmakers to create a governing majority if new elections are required. Brexit has major implications for Ireland, the only European Union country to share a land border with the United Kingdom.

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