Thursday 19 April 2018

Comment: If Simon really wants to win, it's time he took those gloves off

Simon Coveney Picture: Tom Burke
Simon Coveney Picture: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

Many of us wonder why this carry-on is still going on. Why wait nine more days? I mean Leo Varadkar has left his opposition stuck in the traps.

Like most of the Leinster House inmates, I did very wrongly believe, in what seems like a lifetime ago, but in fact was less than a week ago, that this contest would be tight enough and run quite a bit longer.

But it is all over, bar the Fine Gael activists wanting to get a few good nights out.

Absolutely nothing wrong with a good night out - but why involve the rest of the nation?

Simon Coveney and Mr Varadkar had, and still have, their various strengths and weakness which can be argued up and down. But it's clear that Mr Varadkar had done the homework and worked the TDs and senators, giving them the attention they are so often starved of, especially when a party is in government.

Increasingly, even Mr Coveney's supporters will privately concede that the seeds of this one were set in the term July 2014-May 2016, when Mr Varadkar was health minister.

Read More: Battle for cabinet jobs under way - and Varadkar is out to expose SF

Many backbench TDs and senators recall a man called John Carroll, a ministerial adviser who assiduously responded to their constituency queries on behalf of Mr Varadkar.

It is clear that Mr Coveney was not perceived as accessible and responsive.

He may have been busier pursuing the affairs of the nation.

It may be a thumbnail of Irish clientelist politics at most levels within the system. It also recalls the Charlie Haughey leadership coup in late 1979.

The soon-to-be Fianna Fáil leader and taoiseach was minister responsible for both social welfare and health matters. In an office over Dublin's controversial Bus Áras building, Mr Haughey received a procession of backbenchers and delivered hope for their constituents seeking income and health cover.

Clearly, Mr Coveney had to stand his ground for the Cork rally.

Read More: Coveney hits out at rival's big focus on 'people who get up early'

The muttered-about withdrawal from the fight last Saturday afternoon just could not happen on his home turf. It would have fed "second city syndrome" and risked his never again raising his head in his home base.

But he still struggles to explain why he has not conceded.

Mr Coveney clings to claims that he will get the half dozen parliamentary members who are undeclared, and "turn" another half dozen "Varadkarites".

It's an alibi to keep him in the race.

But if he truly wants to win, he must take the gloves off and fight dirty.

'Each week on the Floating Voter, INM's political team discuss the main issues affecting Irish politics, bursting the bubble that surrounds Leinster House.'

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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.

Leo Varadkar
Simon Coveney

Total: 45

Total: 19

Ministers: 17

Ministers: 5

TDs: 16

TDs: 5

Senators: 11

Senators: 8

MEPs: 1

MEPs: 1

Richard Bruton -MinisterSimon Harris - Minister
Frances Fitzgerald - MinisterDamien English - Minister
Michael Ring - MinisterDara Murphy - Minister
Eoghan Murphy - MinisterDavid Stanton - Minister
Sean Kyne - MinisterMarcella Corcoran Kennedy - Minister
Joe McHugh - MinisterKate O'Connell - TD
Helen McEntee - MinisterMaria Bailey - TD
Charlie Flanagan - MinisterSean Barrett TD
Paul Kehoe -MinisterHildegard Naughton - TD
Patrick O'Donovan - MinisterPeter Fitzpatrick - TD
Regina Doherty - MinisterTim Lombard - Senator
Mary Mitchell O'Connor - MinisterJerry Buttimer - Senator
Paschal Donohoe - MinisterPaudie Coffey - Senator
Heather Humphreys - MinisterJames Reilly - Senator
Pat Breen - MinisterColm Burke - Senator
Catherine Byrne - MinisterJohn O'Mahony - Senator
Andrew Doyle - MinisterPaul Coghlan - Senator
John Paul Phelan - TDGabrielle McFadden - Senator
Noel Rock - TDDeirdre 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 - MinisterMichael Creed - Minister
Bernard Durkan - TDSean Kelly - MEP
Mairead McGuinness MEP  

* Outgoing leader Enda Kenny and party chairman Martin Heydon will not make an endorsement

Irish Independent

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