Speculation mounts that Coveney will take up EU commissioner role and spark by-election in Cork South Central

Speculation mounts that Coveney will take up EU commissioner role and spark by-election in Cork South Central
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney arriving for a Cabinet Meeting in Dublin Castle. Photo: Stephen Collins /Collins Photos Dublin

SPECULATION is mounting that Cork TD and former Tánaiste Simon Coveney will take up the role of EU commissioner, leaving a TD spot in Cork South Central up for grabs.

Mr Coveney is among the frontrunners to replace EU Commissioner Phil Hogan, who resigned this week in the wake of #GolfGate.

Mr Hogan has been under fire for not adhering to Covid-19 regulations in attending a controversial Oireachtas Golf Society event in Galway last week, and in other movements he made since returning to Ireland from Brussels late last month.

In the wake of his resignation, focus has turned to finding his replacement with Cork TD and current Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney’s name to the forefront.

Any appointment of Mr Coveney to an EU Commission role would result in a by-election for his TD seat in Cork South Central.

One name that has been mooted as possibly running for the seat is Cork city councillor Des Cahill (FG), a friend of Mr Coveney.

Des Cahill. Photo: Billy macGill.
Des Cahill. Photo: Billy macGill.

When contacted for comment on him potentially running in Cork South Central, Mr Cahill said: “As of now any talk of an election is purely hypothetical.

“Simon Coveney is Minister for Foreign affairs and a TD for Cork.”

Mr Cahill added that Mr Coveney’s experience in Brexit negotiations would make him a good replacement for the commissioner role, saying he is “an internationally respected statesman of the utmost integrity”.

Speaking to The Echo, Ireland South MEP Billy Kelleher said if Ireland wants to keep the trade portfolio held by Mr Hogan, someone of Mr Coveney’s experience will need to be put forward.

“If we are serious about retaining the trade portfolio, someone of Simon Coveney’s experience will be necessary. As a former tánaiste, foreign affairs and trade minister and MEP, Simon has the CV that I think could sway the commission president into allowing Ireland keep the trade brief,” he added.

“Locally, this would be a positive as we have such a strong industrial base. Having a Cork man working at such a high level would undoubtedly be beneficial.”

Cork North Central TD Colm Burke (FG) added that Mr Coveney is a “very qualified candidate” for the Commissioner role.

“Two names will have to be put forward, one male and one female,” he explained. Obviously, Simon Coveney is a very qualified candidate.

“He served in European Parliament from 2004 to 2007. He has a lot of experience as minister for agriculture as well as minister for foreign affairs and had a lot of dealings with the European Union in those roles.”

Green Party councillor Lorna Bogue, who came fifth in the four-seat constituency in the general election, said she is ready to run again.

FG senator Jerry Buttimer said “no comment” when asked if he would be interested in contesting a by-election.

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