Cork throws weight behind Simon for Fine Gael leader

Cork throws weight behind Simon for Fine Gael leader
Ministers Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar are vying for the position of Fine Gael leader.

SIMON Coveney has received the backing of almost all Fine Gael TDs, Senators, MEPS and councillors in Cork in his bid to become the first Taoiseach from Leeside since Jack Lynch.

With the race to replace Enda Kenny now firmly underway, Fine Gael in Cork has thrown its weights behind Mr Coveney in his battle with Leo Varadkar.

Minister of State and Cork East TD David Stanton declared last night that Simon Coveney was the best option for the party and the country.

He said that Mr Coveney has proven that he has the vision and skill to build Cork as an economic counterweight to Dublin, through his focus on major infrastructure projects.

"There is a lot to do the south for the benefit of the whole country, and he is in tune with all of that," he said.

Minister of State Dara Murphy said that Mr Coveney is the right person to take over from Mr Kenny as Ireland faces further Brexit negotiations and a fractured Dáil.

"He was the key person that brought this government together. He has the patience and the type of style to build consensus. He's not afraid of taking on the hard jobs, and this is the hardest job there is," he said.

Lord Mayor and Fine Gael city councillor Des Cahill said that he believes Mr Coveney will be leader in three week's time, and the rest of his party in City Hall are with him.

"My heart and my head and my money are on Simon," he said.

He has known Mr Coveney since they were children and that there was never a question over who he would be supporting.

"This next three weeks isn't just the start of Simon hoping to be leader and Taoiseach. This is three weeks after 18 years of success in public life," he said.

"His record as a minister is better than Leo Varadkar's record. His record is outstanding. His work effort is phenomenal."

A map of the Fine Gael councillors by region.
A map of the Fine Gael councillors by region.

Mr Cahill said that the only "flaw" he could see in Mr Coveney is that he doesn't change his views to suit the public like other politicians, but that was something he admired.

"He plays the right card, not the popular card. It's a very honest approach," he said.

On the County Council, Fine Gael council leader Kevin Murphy said that he expects his whole party to back Mr Coveney.

"It would be remiss of us if we didn't. He is an excellent choice. He will have my full support and I'll do everything to get as many more people behind him as I can."

That view was backed by his colleagues Cllr Derry Canty and Cllr Deirdre Forde.

"He's straight and honest with everything he says. May the best man win, and I hope that man is Simon Coveney," said Mr Canty.

"I think it will be great for Cork. Cork hasn't had someone of that potential since Jack Lynch, and he has the attributes to be a fair and dynamic leader," said Ms Forde.

Senator Tim Lombard has been one of Mr Coveney's key campaigners behind the scenes in recent weeks and said last night that he will do "whatever I can to help him win" in the coming weeks.

Senator Colm Burke, who took over Mr Coveney's European Parliament seat in 2007, said that he would be backing his fellow Corkman as he had the experience from Europe, the opposition, and government to lead Ireland and Fine Gael, especially through Brexit.

Seanad Leader Jerry Buttimer said that he will be throwing his weight behind his former constituency colleague.

MEP Deirdre Forde's father, Peter Barry, was the only other Corkman to run for Fine Gael leader, 30 years ago, and he was the one who originally brought the Coveneys into politics.

She said that her father, and Mr Coveney's father, Hugh Coveney, would be proud of him now, not just because he was a Corkman running for leader, but because he had built up the attributes to be a leader and win the race.

Cork North West TD Minister Michael Creed and Cork South West TD Jim Daly could not be reached for comment.

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