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Coveney – I was taking calls on the labour ward

AGRICULTURE Minister Simon Coveney has said his family will trump votes, politics and elections every time.

The 41-year-old has given a rare insight into his private life and revealed he came close to allowing his career to take a toll on his personal affairs, forcing him to learn some "very, emotive and hard lessons".

The Cork native said one of these deliberating moments occurred last year while he was on the labour ward waiting for his wife to give birth to their third child, Annalise, when he received a phone call from French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll.

SUMMIT

The pair were in crunch talks for the Common Agriculture Policy and Fisheries Policies at the time, during the Irish Presidency of the EU last year.

"I said, 'Stephane, with all due respect, my wife is about to have a feckin' baby'," he told the Laya business and self-empowerment summit at the Convention centre in Dublin last night.

Mr Coveney married his long-term girlfriend Ruth Furney almost six years ago, and the couple have three daughters – Beth (4), Jessica (3) and 10-month-old Annalise.

The family also have a pup called Teddy.

"In my profession I know people who have lost their families with an obsession with politics, with votes, with popularity, with elections. It's an obsession their partners and their families simply can't deal with.

"The most important things in life are the things that, when you finish your career, you still have.

"And the people who don't give a damn, quite frankly, how successful you are, what you change or what you do, how much money you have, or how many photographs you get in the paper, are the people who just want to be with you because they want to be with you.

"And if you lose that perspective, as I have nearly done in my career, to my cost privately, you will learn some very, very emotive and hard lessons," he revealed in a frank address to delegates.

The Minister, who is due to depart for the Harvard Agribusiness Conference in Boston later this morning, said that before he left his Cork home on Wednesday, his three-year-old promised she would keep his bed warm for him making leaving even more heart wrenching.

hnews@herald.ie


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