Drumconrath-based MEP, Mairead McGuinness, who is first vice-president of the European Parliament, said when Enda Kenny leaves the Taoiseach's office he will have left an enormously positive legacy behind him.
Kenny's successor as party leader is set to be elected on June 2 and Noonan may still oversee the flotation of Allied Irish Banks, which he said could happen in the coming weeks, another landmark in the banking sector recovery.
Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney have been named as the two leading candidates to take over, with nominations in the contest to close on Saturday.
In a statement announcing his retirement as leader, Mr Kenny said it had been a "huge honour and privilege" to steer the party over the course of 15 years.
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So far none of the other local Fine Gael representatives - MEP Mairead McGuinness and councillors John McGahon, Colm Markey, Dolories Minogue and Richie Culhane - have publicly declared who they will be supporting in the leadership battle.
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.
In 2002, party leader Michael Noonan led Fine Gael to its then worst performance, losing 23 seats. He was due to step down at midnight to become acting party leader until a successor is chosen. "I have chose to implement this decision today", Kenny said in a written statement posted on his Twitter account.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast earlier, the Public Expenditure Minister described Varadkar as "the most substantial and capable politician of my generation".
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As to the future Cllr Mulhall said the party has "two good candidates" in Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney and there was talk of a third candidate.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny is in London today for a number of engagements including a speech to the Ireland Funds Great Britain group.
"He stepped in during one of the worst recessions this country has seen, when we were borrowing more than 50% of what we were taking in, when unemployment was up on 15% and when people were leaving in their droves with no hope".
The contest is decided by an electoral college that gives the parliamentary party, made up of TDs, senators and MEPs, 65% of the vote.
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Rank-and-file members are allocated 25 percent and councilors 10 percent.