Thursday 14 December 2017

Coveney’s bid to be seen as less forceful than his rival for the crown

Housing Minister Simon Coveney at the wedding of Eugene Reagan and Janne Storgaard in Dublin a day before his assured comments made on RTÉ’s ‘The Week in Politics’ about a
timeframe for Enda Kenny to step down. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Housing Minister Simon Coveney at the wedding of Eugene Reagan and Janne Storgaard in Dublin a day before his assured comments made on RTÉ’s ‘The Week in Politics’ about a timeframe for Enda Kenny to step down. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Housing Minister Simon Coveney's intervention on RTÉ's 'The Week in Politics' was described by supporters as his "first real move" in the leadership stakes.

Under pressure from his main rival Leo Varadkar, Mr Coveney laid down a clear time frame for Enda Kenny to step aside.

While he mentioned the St Patrick's Day visit to the White House as the Taoiseach's last major engagement, sources later said this should be interpreted as a departure date for late March or early April.

But it is the manner in which he laid down the ultimatum to Mr Kenny that gives the clearest insight yet into the Cork TD's campaign strategy.

He emphasised that Mr Kenny Taoiseach has brought the country through a "storm" and is "owed" the respect by members.

The word "trust" was used on several occasions during his interview with broadcaster Áine Lawlor.

He also moved to differentiate himself from Mr Varadkar, who he said wants to "push things" in relation to the leadership.

Supporters of Mr Coveney said there was an attempt to portray him as far more conciliatory and respectful than Mr Varadkar.

This approach, sources say, will ensure Mr Coveney has a greater appeal to the so-called 'middle ground' TDs and senators, who have yet to pledge their support for any contender.

The Coveney camp insists it is closing the gap on Mr Varadkar.

It points to the opinion poll in the 'Sunday Independent', which shows Mr Coveney trailing by just four points.

Online Editors

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