Saturday 25 November 2017

Coveney again hints he will get move in reshuffle

Simon Coveney at UCD yesterday
Simon Coveney at UCD yesterday

Niall O'Connor and Fionnan Sheahan

Simon Coveney has dropped the second hint in as many weeks that he believes he will be moved in the forthcoming Cabinet reshuffle.

And Dr James Reilly is arguing he is an "integral part" of the Government as he fights back against intense speculation he is set for the chop.

The embattled Health Minister is tipped for demotion in the reshuffle, following a series of debacles in his portfolio, most notably the medical card review fiasco.

Dr Reilly defended his record on reducing the length of hospital waiting lists.

"Can I say I am part of a government that is committed to all of this and I don't set myself aside from that Government," he said.

"I am an integral part of it and we all are striving to fix it."

Mr Coveney has been talking about the possibility of being in his final days as Agriculture Minister.

At an event in UCD, Mr Coveney announced in his address that this "might well be my last speaking here as Agriculture Minister due to the political times we live in".

But the comment echoed another remark made by the minister last week. He also told a beef industry meeting that he may not be in the job within a month.

At a meeting of the Beef Roundtable group in Dublin Castle, Mr Coveney said the group would not be meeting over the summer.

He said the focus of the group in the autumn would be on exporting to China and he would be heavily involved "if I'm around in six weeks".


The comment was taken by farming groups and beef industry figures as a sign he believed he might be moved.

Mr Coveney has previously said he wants to be left as Agriculture Minister in the Cabinet reshuffle to turn his department into an economic heavyhitter. In an interview with the Irish Independent earlier this year, Mr Coveney said he didn'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".

He said that his only ambition in politics was to become Minister for the Marine – a post held by his late father, Hugh Coveney, who died in 1998.

Mr Coveney succeeded his father as Fine Gael TD for Cork South-Central in the resulting by-election.

Often tipped as a future leader of Fine Gael and a potential future Taoiseach, the minister said that he doesn't pay attention to speculation about his future.

Irish Independent

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