Thursday 18 January 2018

Coveney calls for Fine Gael unity as he woos party faithful at AGMs

Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Mark Condren
Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Mark Condren
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Housing Minister Simon Coveney called for party unity last night as the Fine Gael leadership contest continues to heat up.

Mr Coveney addressed both the Cork North Central and Cork East branch AGMs of the Fine Gael party yesterday.

The former was held in the Vienna Woods Hotel in Glanmire while the latter was staged in the Corrin Mart complex in Fermoy. Cork South West staged its Fine Gael branch AGM in The Park Hotel in Dunmanway as both attracted large attendances.

"I wanted to be here to brief you on what is happening in Dublin in terms of how we are continuing to run Government but also to make preparations for a change of leadership in the party at some stage in the not-too-distant future," he said.

"That is a call for Enda Kenny and we all need to respect that.

"But, at the same time, we need to understand that we have a new process that we need to go through. We need to keep the party together and, most importantly, at the same time we need to continue to run an efficient Government.

"We are dealing with multiple problems from housing to Brexit and to maintain a competitive economy and more."

Meanwhile, European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy confirmed he would be supporting Mr Coveney for the Fine Gael leadership when Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirms he is to step down.

"My position has been very consistent," Mr Murphy said. "I think Enda Kenny has been a fantastic leader for both our party and the country. But when he decides to step down and a leadership race is confirmed, I will be supporting Simon Coveney.

"I believe Simon has the mix of experience, skills, commitment and vision to be a very successful leader of both Fine Gael and our country."

For Fine Gael members, the leadership contest was the only story in town. "I'll be backing Simon 100pc as the next taoiseach - I knew his late father Hugh. I think Simon has the makings of a great leader," one Cork East party member said.

Irish Independent

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