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Varadkar appoints Coveney to Tánaiste post

Minister Simon Coveney was in the U.S. earlier in the year and is here speaking at the Irish Embassy in Washington.

 

By Irish Echo Staff

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has appointed his former rival for Ireland’s top political job as his deputy.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney will now be Tánaiste, this in addition to his ministerial role.

The move is being viewed as a strengthening of Coveney’s authority and profile in the context of his lead role in Ireland’s participation in the Brexit process.

Coveney, the TD for the Cork South Central constituency, replaces France Fitzgerald as deputy prime minister.

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Fitzgerald resigned earlier this week after new revelations surrounding the Garda whistleblower scandal

In what turned into a mini-cabinet reshuffle, Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht Minister Heather Humphreys, who was also being tipped for the Tánaiste post, will take over Fitzgerald’s portfolio at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

The Culture portfolio will be taken over by Dublin TD Josepha Madigan.

Humphreys is a TD in the Cavan/Monaghan constituency and will now be part of the Irish government’s Brexit negotiating team which, of course, is heavily focused on the future nature of the border.

"I believe his appointment as Tánaiste will enhance his position in representing the government overseas and in the negotiations currently underway and will make it easier for him to coordinate the work of other departments with respect to Brexit," said Mr. Varadkar of Mr. Coveney.

The two had tussled for the leadership of Fine Gael and the job of taoiseach after Enda Kenny took leave of both positions earlier this year.

Varadkar won out, but moved to quell any suggestion of a lasting divide between the two by appointing Coveney to what is a senior ministry.

Varadkar appointing Coveney as his deputy reinforces that image of rapprochement.