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Coveney Faces Mammoth Challenge But Says: Don't Write Me Off Yet


Enda Kenny's handling of the latest in a procession of Garda scandals, involving allegations against whistleblower Maurice McCabe, found him unable to say what he knew and when and this helped speed his departure as Fine Gael leader.

He said Minister Simon Coveney is "a very fine politician" but said he believes Mr Varadkar has the "rare combination of intellect and judgement needed for leadership".

Mr Varadkar has already secured the public endorsements of around 35 members of the parliamentary party.

The Social Protection Minister will follow that up by conducting formalities at the opening of Longford-Westmeath TD Peter Burke's constituency in Mullingar on Monday evening.

The new system Fine Gael is running to select its leadership has placed a significant weighting on the votes of parliamentary party members.

Simon Coveney at his leadership campaign kick off rally in Cork's Capitol building tonight (Saturday) where over 400 party members, senators and TDs turned out to support the Fine Gael leadership candidate.


Despite picking up early backing in the race, he remains cautious, saying: "I'm not counting my chickens".

Neither Mr Breen nor Mr Carey had declared at the time, and they remained silent while standing beside Mr Coveney as he was being asked questions.

"I am also proposing that we consider a major change in how Ireland organises its national security services, as part of major reform of the gardai and the defence forces".

Put to him that he could do with their support, he indicated that the campaign had only just begun. With leadership contest these things often start out as 50-50 when that contest begins, when one candidate goes in front of the other on so called declarations, well then you have a tide effect and a lot of the middle ground don't want to get caught out, they want to be on the winning side and that is what we have seen in the last 48 hours.

Mr Coveney promised to consider how post-Brexit Ireland should maintain its competitiveness in key areas like taxation and infrastructure, including appointing a minister for infrastructure.

Despite this, Mr Coveney has insisted he will not pull out of the race.

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