Saturday 18 November 2017

Simon Coveney refuses to concede defeat as he vows to fight to win back TDs

Simon Coveney, is one of the contenders to be the next Taoiseach
Simon Coveney, is one of the contenders to be the next Taoiseach
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Housing Minister Simon Coveney has refused to concede the Fine Gael leadership race to Leo Varadkar, saying he will fight to turn TDs back in his favour.

The minister has claimed that some parliamentary party member he expected would support him sided with Mr Varadkar after watching the “momentum” move in the direction of the Social Protection Minister.

“What’s happened here is once this process kicked off momentum developed on Leo’s side and many people who had very, very positive conversations with me came to me and said ‘Look Simon, I see this going one direction I don’t want to get on the wrong side and I hope you understand,’” he said.

“And you know what, I kind of respect them for being up front about that. That’s politics.”

Mr Coveney launched his policy priorities today at an event in Dublin where he said Fine Gael needs to start planning for a united Ireland.

He also said the timeline set for abolishing the Universal Social Charge was too ambitious and promised a new system for whistleblowers and discouraging corruption.

He said his supporters “haven’t conceded anything” despite Mr Varadkar’s seemingly assailable lead in the race to replace Enda Kenny as party leader and Taoiseach.

“No Oireachtas colleague has voted yet, they have simply made declarations,” he said.

Mr Coveney said it is important the husting go ahead so that the voices of Fine Gael’s  232 councillors and 20,000 members is heard.

Health Minister Simon Harris, the only Cabinet minister to back Mr Coveney, said he will stick with his campaign until the end.

He said: “We don’t need a coronation. What we need is a debate.”

Online Editors

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