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Day Eleven: Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney gear up for final hustings debate

Here’s our running tally of TDs, senators and MEPs.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Updated Sunday 28 May at 12pm

Running total:

  • Leo Varadkar 46
  • Simon Coveney 20

JUST BEFORE THE third bout of the Fine Gael hustings held in Ballinasloe last night, another party member publicly declared their support – this time for Simon Coveney.

MEP Mairead McGuinness, first vice-president of the European Parliament said that Coveney had the “grit and determination” to succeed, and was backing him in the leadership race.

The final round of the leadership hustings will be held tonight at 8pm.

Before the party’s four rounds of debates which began on Thursday, the momentum seemed to be with social protection minister Leo Varadkar, who has almost double his party colleague’s tally.

But after the Minister for Housing’s fiery performances in the first three rounds, the race seems much closer than it first appeared (if rounds of applause from party members is anything to go by).

The Minister for Social Protection officially launched his campaign last weekend in Dublin, and produced four more confirmed votes (including two ministers) for his leadership-run while he was at it.

The big coup for Varadkar was Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who described her colleague as “having magic in the way he thinks” at the launch.

Also declaring for Varadkar were Galway TD and Minister of State for Regional Economic Development Michael Ring, Drugs Minister Catherine Byrne, and Senator Joe O’Reilly bringing his total to 46 confirmed votes, still 26 clear of Coveney’s 20.

In reaching and passing the 40 mark Varadkar has arrived at what is seen as the magic number regarding support from within the parliamentary party.

A victory for Coveney now appears to be a mathematical impossibility, given he would need roughly 70% of the votes of the nation’s Fine Gael councillors in order to win, with the Irish Times’ leadership tracker suggesting Varadkar already has more than 30% of those councillors committed to his cause, with 40% undecided.

Varadkar had surged ahead since Enda Kenny stepped down at midnight last Wednesday, gathering the backing of a raft of TDs and senators within days.

Coveney, meanwhile, launched his own campaign on Thursday – but has struggled to gain the support of parliamentary party members to date.

In what has been a relatively tepid campaign thus far, the gloves came off somewhat in Ennis, Co Clare, on Friday with TD Kate O’Connell, a prominent Coveney supporter, labelling those who have opted for Varadkar as “choirboys” who are “boys singing for their supper”, according to a report in the Irish Independent.

At the launch on Saturday, Varadkar declined to comment on the “choirboys” remark.

Fine Gael’s 73 members of the parliamentary party (that’s TDs, Senators and MEPs) will represent 65% of the total leadership vote. The wider membership have 25% of the voting power and councillors have 10%.

With that in mind, here’s a list of parliamentary party members who’ve publicly announced their support for either Varadkar or Coveney.

LEO VARADKAR

File Photo SOCIAL PROTECTION MINISTER Leo Varadkar has said he’s relaxed about the expected leadership contest in Fine Gael Where will Enda be pinning his support? Source: RollingNews.ie

TDs

Alan Farrell

Andrew Doyle

Brendan Griffin

Catherine Byrne (Minister for Communities and National Drugs Strategy)

Charlie Flanagan (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade)

Ciarán Cannon

Colm Brophy

Eoghan Murphy

Fergus O’Dowd

Frances Fitzgerald (Minister for Justice, Equality, and Law Reform)

Heather Humphreys (Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs)

90429884_90429884 Minister Heather Humphreys added her name to Leo's team yesterday. Source: graphy: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Helen McEntee (Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People)

Jim Daly

Joe Carey

Joe McHugh (Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development)

John Deasy

John Paul Phelan

Josepha Madigan

Mary Mitchell O’Connor (Minister of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)

Michael D’Arcy

Michael Ring (Minister for Regional Economic Development)

Noel Rock

Paschal Donohoe (Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform)

File Photo PUBLIC EXPENDITURE MINISTER Paschal Donohoe has said he will be supporting Leo Varadkar to be the next leader of Fine Gael Donohoe (right) backs Varadkar in the Fine Gael leadership race. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Pat Breen (Minister of State for Employment and Small Business)

Pat Deering

Patrick O’Donovan

Peter Burke

Paul Kehoe (Minister of State with responsibility for Defence)

Peter Fitzpatrick

Regina Doherty

Richard Bruton (Minister for Education)

Seán Kyne (Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources)

Tom Neville

Tony McLoughlin

Senators

Catherine Noone

Frank Feighan

Joe O’Reilly

Kieran O’Donnell

Maria Byrne

Martin Conway

Maura Hopkins

Michelle Mulherin

Neale Richmond

Paddy Burke

Ray Butler

MEPs 

Brian Hayes

SIMON COVENEY

SIMON COVENEY 9837_90512193 Coveney has got a bit of work to do in the next few weeks. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

TDs

Damien English

Dara Murphy

David Stanton

Hildegarde Naughton

Kate O’Connell

Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy (Minister of State for Health Promotion)

Maria Bailey

Peter Fitzpatrick

Seán Barrett (former Ceann Comhairle)

Simon Harris (Minister for Health)

medical 514_90510318 Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Senators

Colm Burke

Gabrielle McFadden

James Reilly (Fine Gael’s Deputy Leader)

Jerry Buttimer

John O’Mahony

Paudie Coffey

Paul Coughlan

Tim Lombard

MEPs

Deirdre Clune

Mairead McGuinness

19/4/2016. General Election Talks Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Finance Minister Michael Noonan. Source: RollingNews.ie

Who’s hiding?

Under Fine Gael party rules, TDs and senators account for 65% of the votes (73 members), while councillors account for 10% (235 members) and general party members make up 25% (almost 21,000).

But Ministers publicly backing either candidate could hold sway with local councillors and the party’s membership.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan (who announced his retirement on Friday) is still to declare his support for either candidate.

The campaign has just under a week left to go, with the leadership result announced by Friday 2 June.

Read: The man who would be king – is Simon Coveney on a well-worn path to Taoiseach?

Read: From poison chalice to top of the table, is Leo Varadkar destined to be Taoiseach?

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