MINISTER for Defence and Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, will not be leaving his seat as Cork TD for an EU commissioner role according to a local councillor.
Speculation had been mounting that he would be put forward for the role of EU commissioner in the wake of Phil Hogan’s resignation following Golfgate.
Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill told The Echo: “It’s highly unlikely that Simon will go to Europe in my view. They seem adamant that a female candidate will be successful instead. Simon is a lot of things but he’s not female so that rules him out and thankfully, he’ll be staying in Cork. I think that as a result, Fine Gael is in pretty good shape in Cork.”
However, Mr Cahill said he doubts Ireland will keep the trade portfolio.
“I think she [European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen] is going to give her Belgian counterpart the trade portfolio and that we’ll get a lesser portfolio then. I think it’s reasonable to say that, putting the male or female aspect aside, I think Simon was the most qualified to take over that trade portfolio. When they don’t want him in the race, that makes it apparent that we’re going to lose it. There are a few things at play that are out of our control.”
With Mr Coveney apparently out of the race, attention has turned to current MEP and vice president of the European Parliament, Mairead McGuinness.
“If Mairead McGuinness is successful, she will be an excellent commissioner, I’ve no doubt about that,” said Mr Cahill.
“It also wouldn’t trigger a by-election. Her experience in parliament will stand to her but I’m not sure what portfolio we’re going to get. The indications were that to keep the trade portfolio, Ireland would have to put forward a senior, senior politician. Mairead never served as a TD or Minister but has served for 16 years in Europe. Simon has been a minister of several briefs, lead Brexit negotiator, and more so I don’t think there’s anyone in Ireland more qualified, but it’s clear that they want a female candidate to be successful.”