Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar. file photo.

Speculation That Coveney Jumped Before Being Pushed

That Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Simon Coveney, is stepping down from the Irish government's Cabinet might have more to do with Fine Gael colleague Leo Varadkar's stepping away from politics than immediately meets the eye.

Coveney's announcement comes as new Fine Gael leader Simon Harris – who is set to become Taoiseach next week – prepares for a Cabinet reshuffle, leading to speculation that Coveney, who is also a Cork South-Central TD, jumped before he was pushed.

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On X, formerly Twitter, Mr. Coveney posted: “Last night I spoke to @SimonHarrisTD to inform him that I would not be making myself available to serve in cabinet when the Dáil resumes next week. I’ll continue to work as a proud TD for Cork South Central and will of course actively support the Government in the Dáil.”

Last month, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced his resignation, a move that led to Harris’ election as Fine Gael leader.

Speaking on RTÉ One, Mr. Coveney said it will be a difficult decision for his party leader to select the Fine Gael ministers in the three-party government, which also includes Fianna Fáil and the Greens.

“That’s a really difficult decision for Simon,” he said. “He’s going to be the youngest Taoiseach ever. He’s a really talented person. I think he’ll want to bring forward new ideas and new energy in the party. And I think he’ll want to bring a team with him, to do that.

“And I don’t know whether he was going to ask me to be in Cabinet as part of that team or not. I know he was weighing that up. And we spoke about that both last week and again this week. But I think it makes life easier for him. And I think it’s also, you know, a recognition by me, too, that Fine Gael needs renewal.”

He added: “And, in many ways, when Leo Varadkar decided to step down a couple of weeks ago, he started that process. And obviously, my initial reaction to that was to steady the ship, if you like, to work within the party to make sure that we could manage the transition to a new leader quickly, efficiently and professionally because the country needs that right now.

“But I’ve had a chance, really, to think about this from a personal point of view over Easter with my family.

“And for me, I’ve had an amazing 13 years, at the centre of Government. And I think, we’ve got lots of ambitious talent in the party, and I’m going to now make it easier.”

Simon Coveney was first elected to the Dáil in a by-election as a Fine Gael candidate for Cork South-Central in 1998 following the death of his father Hugh, who was himself a Fine Gael TD. One of his main achievements in government was as Minister for Foreign Affairs where he steered Ireland through the difficult Brexit negotiations, resulting in a no trade border on the island of Ireland.