Coveney full of praise for O'Connell - despite her antics during FG battle
Dublin TD Kate O'Connell might be out of favour with the likely new Taoiseach and her party headquarters - but Simon Coveney still thinks she's "phenomenal".
The first-time representative became something of a household name during the Fine Gael leadership campaign, hitting the headlines on several occasions for her stinging barbs.
Most notably she landed herself in hot water by describing Leo Varadkar's supporters as "choirboys singing for their supper".
After being slapped on the wrist by party officials, she then suggested that if HQ wanted to put manners on her it should ask her "auld lad" how it went for him.
And in recent days her sister and parliamentary advisor, Theresa Newman, was reprimanded after a disparaging social media post about Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor.
Her tweet included a picture of the minister waving a 'Leo' poster at the final hustings in Cork, with the caption: "There's MMOC working to keep her job in the Ministry of Jobs, fair play to her. #CoveneyForLeader."
Senior figures in Mr Varadkar's team had to warn his supporters not to return insult with insult but privately they are furious with Ms O'Connell. The fact she shares a constituency with Mr Varadkar's campaign manager Eoghan Murphy hasn't helped the backroom anger.
But far from embarrassed or apologetic for her attacks, Mr Coveney defended the Dublin Bay South representative saying she has been "phenomenal during my campaign".
"She wears her heart on her sleeve. She's the kind of person that we need in politics. She's passionate. She's energetic. She's really smart. I'm not going to criticise anything," the Housing Minister told RTÉ's 'Today with Sean O'Rourke'.
As one of Mr Coveney's most visible supporters throughout the past two weeks, Ms O'Connell has travelled the country making speeches at town hall-style meetings.
"She is competitive and she likes to win, like I do. She's been a really important part of our campaign," Mr Coveney said.
He admitted that "people have strayed outside the boundaries a bit," in terms of behaviour, but added: "I've been referred to as Enda Kenny with a yacht by the other side."
However, the Cork TD said the shots fired over the campaign will have to be put to one side after today if Fine Gael is to row in behind the new leader.
"That's where I think both Leo and I need to show some character and leadership at the end of this.
"For my part, if Leo wins I'll shake his hand. I'll wish him well and I'll work with him to make sure the party is stronger at the end of this. I hope he'll do the same if I win," Mr Coveney said.
He added that political contests "are competitive and sometimes friendships are strained" - but "we're on the same side essentially".
Fine Gael parliamentary party endorsements for leader
The Fine Gael parliamentary party makes up 65pc of the total electorate.
That makes each of the 73 members' votes worth 0.9pc of the total ballot.
Of the remaining electorate, 230 party councillors account for 10pc, while the remaining 25pc is rank and file members.
|Richard Bruton -Minister||Simon Harris - Minister|
|Frances Fitzgerald - Minister||Damien English - Minister|
|Michael Ring - Minister||Dara Murphy - Minister|
|Eoghan Murphy - Minister||David Stanton - Minister|
|Sean Kyne - Minister||Marcella Corcoran Kennedy - Minister|
|Joe McHugh - Minister||Kate O'Connell - TD|
|Helen McEntee - Minister||Maria Bailey - TD|
|Charlie Flanagan - Minister||Sean Barrett TD|
|Paul Kehoe -Minister||Hildegard Naughton - TD|
|Patrick O'Donovan - Minister||Peter Fitzpatrick - TD|
|Regina Doherty - Minister||Tim Lombard - Senator|
|Mary Mitchell O'Connor - Minister||Jerry Buttimer - Senator|
|Paschal Donohoe - Minister||Paudie Coffey - Senator|
|Heather Humphreys - Minister||James Reilly - Senator|
|Pat Breen - Minister||Colm Burke - Senator|
|Catherine Byrne - Minister||John O'Mahony - Senator|
|Andrew Doyle - Minister||Paul Coghlan - Senator|
|John Paul Phelan - TD||Gabrielle McFadden - Senator|
|Noel Rock - TD||Deirdre Clune - MEP|
|Tony McLoughlin - TD|
|Alan Farrell - TD|
|Michael D'Arcy - TD|
|Tom Neville - TD|
|Josepha Madigan - TD|
|Pat Deering - TD|
|Jim Daly - TD|
|Brendan Griffin - TD|
|Ciaran Cannon - TD|
|Colm Brophy - TD|
|Peter Burke - TD|
|Fergus O'Dowd - TD|
|John Deasy - TD|
|Joe Carey - TD|
|Neale Richmond - Senator|
|Catherine Noone - Senator|
|Paddy Burke - Senator|
|Martin Conway - Senator|
|Michelle Mulherin - Senator|
|Maura Hopkins - Senator|
|Ray Butler - Senator|
|Frank Feighan - Senator|
|Maria Byrne - Senator|
|Joe O'Reilly - Senator|
|Kieran O'Donnell - Senator|
|Brian Hayes - MEP|
|Enda Kenny - Outgoing Party Leader *||Martin Heydon - Party Chairman *|
|Michael Noonan - Minister||Michael Creed - Minister|
|Bernard Durkan - TD||Sean Kelly - MEP|
|Mairead McGuinness MEP|
* Outgoing leader Enda Kenny and party chairman Martin Heydon will not make an endorsement