We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Runners and riders: Here's who's in the frame to become the next Fine Gael leader

Simon Coveney, who previously ran against Varadkar in the last election for a Fine Gael leader, has ruled himself out of the race.

TODAY IS THE last day Leo Varadkar took questions in the Dáil as Taoiseach. 

He resigned as Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader in a shock announcement at Government Buildings this afternoon.

Never a dull day in politics, as they say, now the focus turns to Varadkar’s successor. 

Simon Coveney, who previously ran against Varadkar in the last election for a Fine Gael leader, has ruled himself out of the race

So, who else is left in the race? 


file-photo-dated-05052023-of-justice-minister-simon-harris-speaking-at-the-official-opening-of-a-new-garda-control-centre-for-the-dublin-metropolitan-region-at-the-national-train-control-centre-at-h Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Simon Harris is seen as the clear frontrunner with the bookies, with many in the Fine Gael party stating that he has the energy required to lead the party.

Harris is a former health minister and is currently Higher Education Minister. He also stepped into the role as justice minister when his party colleague Helen McEntee was on maternity leave. 

The TD, aged 37, from Wicklow is one of the youngest in the Cabinet. 

If elected as leader by his party, he would become the country’s youngest ever Taoiseach.

Harris was prominent in the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment, and was also front and centre as health minister during the pandemic.

Never one to be shy about voicing his leadership ambitions in the past, the minister also backed Simon Coveney in the last Fine Gael hustings, though Varadkar was elected. 



The Cavan-Monaghan TD Heather Humphreys is the current Social Protection Minister.

One not to be ruled out, Humphreys is well-liked in the party, and is well-known for divvying out funding around the country from her other department in Minister for Rural and Community Development. 

She is also seen as a consistent vote-getter locally, having been elected on the first count in the last two general elections.


280Cabinet Meetings_90698122

Helen McEntee’s name was often in the mix when there were discussions over the last year about a possible successor to Varadkar. 

However, the minister has been mired in bad news with the Dublin riots and concerns about crime and safety. 

She survived a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence late last year following the knife attack on schoolchildren in Dublin city.

With most of the bookies she is one of the favourite to wins, but due to her turbulent time in the justice brief, her chances  may now be in jeopardy.

She put in a strong performance on Brexit negotiations and has been widely praised for her policies and legislation to tackle gender-based violence. 


wayfinding 31_90698221

The Minister for Public Expenditure is viewed by many as being steady and reliable.

His name has been in the mix for a number of big jobs of late. However, there was speculation last year that he would take up the position as head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), however Kristalina Georgieva appears to be staying on in the role for a second term.

Donohoe ruled himself out of that role last week, giving him a clear running at the Fine Gael leadership contest.

He has previously stated he is not interested in running for the European Parliament. 

Known as ‘prudent Paschal’ in terms of his bid to balance the books, the minister has been coy about speaking too outright about his leadership intentions in the past. 

He was first elected to the Dail in 2011, and since July 2020 has been the president of the Eurogroup.


Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.