'Business as usual' for Taoiseach Enda Kenny as he prepares to hand over reins

Outgoing Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said it is business as usual for the country as he started his last day in the job.

Mr Kenny is expected to formally announce his resignation as leader of the Republic's minority government later today after six years in the role.

The veteran Fine Gael politician is to host a cabinet meeting for the final time in Government Buildings in Dublin before he takes to the Dail parliament for a valedictory address.

On his way into work Mr Kenny spoke of the privilege of leading the country.

"While it might be a milestone for me personally, in the context of the country that's irrelevant," he said.

"So, it's business as usual, we have many challenges up ahead, but I'm proud and privileged I've been able to serve as Taoiseach all these years."

Mr Kenny resigned as Fine Gael leader in May to make way for his successor.

Although long-awaited, the transition of power has been relatively smooth with Leo Varadkar securing resounding support in a leadership contest, including huge backing among his parliamentary colleagues.

He was confirmed as the new Fine Gael leader in the Mansion House in Dublin on June 2.

Mr Varadkar, Ireland's first openly gay cabinet minister and the son of an Indian doctor, will be nominated as taoiseach in the Dail on Wednesday before he travels to meet President Michael D Higgins in Aras an Uachtarain where he will be given his seal of office.

Speculation is in full swing over who he will retain and appoint to his first cabinet.

Questions centre over whether he will keep his rival for the job, Simon Coveney, in a senior and high profile ministry and whether he will demote Simon Harris, Minister for Health and one of Mr Coveney's most prominent supporters.

Eoghan Murphy, who had a junior ministry in the Department of Finance and ran Mr Varadkar's leadership campaign, is one of those being touted for a promotion to the senior ranks.

Others vying for a cabinet seat include Joe McHugh and Michael Ring, both representing rural constituencies in Donegal and Mayo respectively.

An appointment there would ease concerns that Mr Varadkar's focus is seen as too urban.

Elsewhere questions remain over whether some of the old guard will retain ministries including Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Mr Varadkar will head a minority government with the backing of the Independent Alliance, two Independent TDs and a confidence and supply agreement with the main opposition party Fianna Fail.

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