Despite Fine Gael’s recent woes, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that he is not at all worried about his position as party leader.
This week it was announced that Fine Gael Carlow-Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan would not be contesting the next General Election, citing ongoing health issues.
In addition, in January of this year Fine Gael Kerry TD and close ally of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Brendan Griffin, confirmed that he would not be seeking re-election next election.
Fine Gael TD for Kerry Brendan Griffin has confirmed he will not stand in the next General Election, citing family reasons for his decisionhttps://t.co/OVKD3nDEmq
— TheJournal.ie (@thejournal_ie) January 31, 2023
Last year, former Fine Gael Minister and Donegal TD Joe McHugh resigned the party whip, causing the government to lose their overall majority.
Former education minister resigns whip after voting against mica bill https://t.co/tkXfzFxoYj
— breakingnews.ie (@breakingnewsie) July 6, 2022
Fine Gael TD David Stanton has also confirmed he is now “certain” he will not be running in the next election.
Before this, in 2021, ex-Fine Gael Housing Minister and Dublin Bay South TD Eoghan Murphy resigned his seat to seek a career in international affairs.
Fine Gael will pick the candidate “most likely to win” byelection in Dublin Bay South to succeed Eoghan Murphy, says Leo Varadkar https://t.co/GSCL3jvpp3
— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) April 27, 2021
According to the Irish Examiner, a number of other TDs are also considering not running, and many of these are some of the party’s most experienced figures, such as Charlie Flanagan and Michael Creed.
Up to nine Fine Gael TDs expected not to run in next general election https://t.co/XQgJY1Szfd
— Irish Examiner (@irishexaminer) January 27, 2023
The latest development comes as Fine Gael has experienced its lowest ever Behaviour And Attitudes poll result for the Sunday Times earlier this month, diving from 23% down to just 15%.
Varadkar dismisses Fine Gael plunge in poll amid Sinn Féin surge https://t.co/QkEPZml4d1
— breakingnews.ie (@breakingnewsie) April 10, 2023
However, as reported by the Irish Examiner, when asked if he was concerned about the exodus of TDs from the party, he said he was “not the slightest bit worried.”
Varadkar said that while Fine Gael has in excess of 50 TDs, senators and MEPs, some of whom had over 20 years of experience, there were many candidates behind them who are “dying to get elected to the next Dáil.”
“Let’s not forget in the last general election, which was a difficult election for my party, we elected five new TDs,” he said.
“Two of those are ministers and three of those are very much on the rise within the party.”
Earlier in the week, he had specifically named junior ministers Neale RIchmond and Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, who he said were “very much on the pathway to promotion in my view.”
When asked if he felt he would still be Fine Gael leader by the time of the next election, Varadkar was emphatic that he would.
“My expectation in the next election is that we will have an election result in the mid-20s, that we will have roughly 45 seats, and we’ll have between 10 and 15 new TDs,” he said.
According to an Extra.ie report this week, there are discussions taking place within Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil about calling a election within a year over strained relationships with the Green Party.
Cycle lanes 'will cost us seats in the election' claim Greens https://t.co/QWA5n9jFO4 pic.twitter.com/5cVvYD2BVy
— Extra.ie (@ExtraIRL) April 17, 2023
“The issue of an election, possibly even before the May elections in 2024, is a live one,” one unnamed Minister reportedly said.
“One year being left is being talked about. It is being talked about at Taoiseach and at Tánaiste level.”