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Simon Coveney will not return to Cabinet position from next week

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, announced today, Tuesday, April 2, that he will no longer be serving in the Cabinet from next week.

Coveney said on X on Tuesday that he told Simon Harris, the new leader of Fine Gael and the Taoiseach-in-waiting, that he would “not be making myself available to serve in cabinet when the Dáil resumes next week.”

Coveney added: “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 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.

— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) April 2, 2024

Coveney has been the Deputy Leader of Fine Gael since June 2017. His announcement on Tuesday comes less than two weeks after his party colleague Leo Varadkar made a surprise announcement that he was resigning as both Taoiseach and leader of Fine Gael.

Unopposed, Simon Harris has since become the new leader of Fine Gael and is set to become Taoiseach pending a Dáil vote on April 9.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne on Tuesday, Coveney said he told Harris on Monday night that he would not be putting his name forward for consideration for Cabinet next week.

Coveney said he told Harris that he respects that Harris wants “to create a new-look Fine Gael in many ways, to promote new talent within the party.”

Coveney continued: “I know he [Harris] was struggling with the decision in relation to who’d be in and who’d be out, and I think that for me being in the Cabinet, which has been an amazing experience for 13 years, I felt that the time was right both from his point of view and mine for him to give him the space to create new opportunity in the party, in government.

“He thanked me and respected that.”

Coveney added: “He’s [Harris] 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.

“I think for me, 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.

“Again, I think it makes life easier for him and I think it’s also a recognition by me too that Fine Gael needs renewal. We’re going to go into the next general election hoping to be in government for a fourth term and I think the party needs to find a way to renew itself, to refresh itself.”

On Facebook on Tuesday, Varadkar described Coveney as “a trusted colleague for my entire period in the Dail and in Government” who “has worked diligently in the interests of the nation, the Government and the Party” for over a decade.

Varadkar said he was “blessed” to have Coveney as his Deputy Leader, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

“This was particularly so on Brexit and our sucessful campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council and our policies to increase the budget for international development and our diplomatic footprint.

“He’s one of the hardest working and most loyal people I have ever had the privilege of working with. His decision to create more space for a new generation of Fine Gael leadership to step up is admirable. I look forward to continuing to work with him as a member of the parliamentary party.”

Coveney, 51, has been a TD for Cork South-Central since 1998. He previously served as Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Tánaiste, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, as well as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.


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