FINE Gael ground troops hinted at overwhelming support for Minister Simon Coveney as next party leader and Taoiseach at three Cork meetings last night.
Speaking to 150 members at the Cork North Central AGM, Minister Coveney said that he is ready to contest the party's leadership when a vacancy arises, while his colleague Dara Murphy confirmed he will be backing him.
Sources from Cork have told the Evening Echo that Mr Kenny will outline his future tomorrow night. However, visits this week from EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and Prince Charles may delay that.
Mr Coveney also addressed the Cork East AGM in Fermoy, while Senator Tim Lombard, one of his senior campaign team, addressed the AGM for Cork South West in Dunmanway.
While there was no direct canvassing for votes at last night's meetings, those three constituencies have more than 2,000 members who will be eligible to vote in the election, nearly matching the whole of Dublin. Members of the party speaking after the meeting said that they were excited about the leadership campaign, and believed that the Corkman was in a strong enough position to win.
Mr Murphy became one of the first TDs to publicly support Mr Coveney, saying that it was not about geography, but experience and skills.
“Leo Varadkar is very capable, but, on balance, Simon Coveney has the skills and attributes to be leader of this country.
“He doesn't shirk away from responsibility," he said, saying that he asked to take on the two major issues of housing and Irish Water during cabinet appointments last year.
“He also proved during government negotiations last year that he can be patient and can build a consensus," he said.
He also pointed to Mr Coveney's experience as an MEP and Minister for Agriculture as being valuable in the upcoming years of Brexit negotiations.