Updated: 18/05/17 : 06:24:46
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Race underway for FG Leader..and Taoiseach

Fine Gael's Rules Committee will meet today to lay out the plan for the election of a new leader.

The National Executive Council will decide when hustings and voting will take place around the country in order for the election to be concluded by June 2.

The two leading contenders, Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney, will spend the day finalising their campaign launches, while speculation continues that a third candidate, understood to be Richard Bruton, may emerge.

Parliamentary Party Chairman, deputy Martin Heydon says he cannot declare for any candidate.

"My role as referee is a very important one, and also as a member of the Ethics Committee, as part of Executive Council, my focus will be very much on the process and ensuring the process is done right.

"It would be completely inappropriate of me and I'd have to step down as chairman if I was to declare a preference for any candidate," he said.

Meanwhile, the Government Chief Whip says she will declare who she is supporting in the leadership battle today.

Regina Doherty says she expects Education Minister Richard Bruton will announce his entry into the race later.

At the moment Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar are the front-runners in the race.

Deputy Doherty says she is confident the man she has chosen to support has the right stuff:

"You know what I just have the confidence in this person, so I'm comforted by the rest of the people that I know that share that confidence in this person.

"I'm looking forward to the competition over the next couple of weeks to set out and support what his vision is," she said.