Coveney: I want to stay in Agriculture after reshuffle
SIMON Coveney wants to be left as Agriculture Minister in this year's cabinet reshuffle.
In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Coveney says he doesn't want Taoiseach Enda Kenny to move him as he regards the Department of Agriculture as having the potential to become a "big economic department".
Poignantly, he says his only ambition was to become Minister for the Marine -- a post held by his late father, Hugh Coveney, who died in 1998.
Tipped as a potential future Taoiseach, the minister says he doesn't pay attention to speculation about his future.
"To be honest, it's not even something I think about. My sole focus at the moment is to try and be the best Minister for Agriculture that I can be and best Minister for Marine and Food that I can be and turn this department into a big economic department in Government in terms of making things happen.
"As opposed to just being seen as a department that looks after farmers and fishermen. I don't say that in any kind of derogatory way. Of course, farmers and fishermen are hugely important to this department," he said.
"But the 200,000 people employed in the broader food sector in Ireland, and all of the families that they support, rely on this department and its ambition and drive to make things happen. Hopefully we are doing that, but I wouldn't take the foot off the accelerator," he added.
Mr Coveney said there were challenges for the agriculture sector last year.
"I think we have been tested with food fraud, with extraordinary weather patterns that lead to food shortages."
He added that there was room for expansion in the sector, with the end of milk quotas and the new CAP coming on stream.