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Simon Coveney announces he is leaving politics

TD Simon Coveney announced today, July 10, that he will leave politics at Ireland’s next general election, which will be held no later than next March.

Coveney, 52, has been a TD for Cork South-Central since 1998. He has previously been Ireland’s Secretary of State and Defense Tánaiste, Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Navy.

He had previously announced in April that he told Fine Gael party colleague Simon Harris, who at the time was Taoiseach-in-waiting in the wake of Leo Varadkar’s surprise resignation, that he “would not make myself available to serve in government when the Dáil resume next week.”

Coveney said at the time that he would continue to work as a TD for Cork South Central, but acknowledged that the Fine Gael party needs renewal.

On Wednesday, Coveney announced he would quit politics at the next election.

Under Irish law, the same Dáil shall not continue for more than five years from the date of its first meeting. As such, the current 33rd Dáil must be dissolved by the President of Ireland at the request of the Taoiseach by 19 February 2025, and a general election must be called by 22 March 2025.


In his letter to Fine Gael party members in his constituency on Wednesday, Coveney wrote: “Throughout my political career I have tried to do what is right for Cork, for the country that I love and for our party that I have given my life to. 25 years of age.

“But I have come to the view some time ago that it is time for me to step out of politics at the next election, after the extraordinary privilege of serving this constituency for 26 years.

“I hope you can respect my decision to seek new horizons in life outside Dáil Éireann.”

He continued: “I have loved almost every day of public life. I have had opportunities in politics that I could never have dreamed possible before 1998; as a councillor, a TD, a minister and as a Tánaiste.”

He said his career, which has taken him to “every corner of the world”, was only possible “because of the trust and generosity of the people of Cork South Central for which I will be eternally grateful.”

He continued: “I wouldn’t be leaving if I didn’t think the future was bright. Across the country we saw new candidates emerge in the last local elections.

“Our party is strong and ambitious, our new leader has brought an energy that is reviving the organization at all levels.

“In this constituency we have been promoting and encouraging new talent for years and have ambitious, talented potential candidates to replace me for the upcoming elections.”

Coveney said the main purpose of his letter was to thank the members of his constituency for their support and loyalty to Fine Gael.

“We can be very proud of what has been achieved, our policies have always worked for prosperity and a fairer society, protecting vulnerable people and rewarding hard work,” he wrote.

“We have remained true to these values, even in the face of the unprecedented challenges of the economic crash, Brexit, Covid and the inflationary and tragic human consequences of the war in Ukraine.

“Of course we still have a lot to do, but Fine Gael is the party best suited to protect Ireland, our people and our communities.

“Always stay positive. With your continued support, Fine Gael will ensure that good policies and good people continue in government.”

Simon Coveney, pictured here in 2020. (RollingNews.ie)

When on The Neil Prederville Show on RedFM on Wednesday if his decision was cemented during cabinet discussions in April, Coveney said: “There might have been a place for me, if I had pushed for it.

“I think the likelihood would have been that Simon (Harris) would have appointed a senior minister in Cork if I had been available to do so.

“To be honest with you, for some time, before that change, I had been thinking about whether or not I should stand in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

“I’ve had the privilege of being elected in a by-election, I made a decision to run in that by-election at the age of 25. I’ve had five general elections since then.

“I’ve given my whole professional life to politics so far, so I’ve thought about it a lot with my family over the last few years.

“When the leadership change happened in Fine Gael, it was a trigger moment for me to look to the future both politically and outside of politics and say, look, now is a good time to leave on my own terms when I’m working hard and getting things done.

“I really don’t want to stick with politics any longer than I’m making a significant contribution.”

Coveney said he told Harris to consider others for the cabinet, “and that’s what he did, and I think it’s worked.

“Fine Gael is in a process of renewal. We had just had a good local and EU election, the polls are strong ahead of the general election.

“So I think the decisions I’ve made have been the right ones for the party and I think they’re probably the right ones for me as well.”

6 April 2024: Simon Coveney and Simon Harris at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis. (RollingNews.ie)

Taoiseach Simon Harris responded on Wednesday, saying Coveney is “not just a colleague, he’s a friend.”

Harris said Coveney is “leaving an outstanding footprint on Irish politics.

“I think we can all agree that Simon’s role during Brexit will be his legacy. It was his greatest contribution in politics and of enormous importance to this country.

“Today I want to pay special tribute to Simon’s wife Ruth, his three daughters Jessica, Beth and Annalise.

“Simon’s role as foreign minister meant many nights away from home and I want to thank them today for lending him to the country.

“I know they and the wider Coveney family are so proud of the role he has played in Irish politics and carrying on the legacy of his father Hugh. I wish him well.”


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