Creed will not back either FG contender
Agriculture Minister, Michael Creed, will not publicly endorse either of the contenders to become Taoiseach, writes John Downing.
But Mr Creed is still quite likely to retain his cabinet post in a new government expected to be headed by Leo Varadkar.
A combination of things, including a good track record in the job, the need for continuity facing the challenges of Brexit and the need to maintain a Cork presence in cabinet are all playing in his favour. Many politicians at Leinster House assumed Mr Creed, who has represented Cork North-West since 1989, would be a natural supporter of the other Fine Gael leadership contender, Simon Coveney. Others point out that he is on good terms with well known supporters of Leo Varadkar, such as Cork South-West TD Jim Daly and Carlow Kilkenny's John Paul Phelan.
But while many Government ministers rushed to publicly endorse Leo Varadkar, Mr Creed (right) has stayed well back from proceedings. The Agriculture Minister is due to return from a series of informal EU meetings in Malta late this evening. It is understood that he will maintain his publicly neutral stance right to the end. "There is absolutely no point in getting involved at this late stage," one well-placed source said.
Mr Creed's stock is high in the farming community right how. An opinion poll for FarmIreland.ie, last month found that 71pc of farmers would give him high marks. While Simon Coveney's five years as Agriculture Minister, 2011-2016, were successful, some saw him as too close to big agribusiness and larger-scale farmers.
Mr Creed, appointed in May 2016, is popular with smaller farmers.