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Three party leaders meet this evening to discuss Phil Hogan's successor

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe have ruled themselves out of the running.

Image: Sam Boal;

THE POSSIBLE REPLACEMENT to take over EU Commissioner Phil Hogan’s job is being discussed by the three party leaders this evening.

Yesterday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar ruled himself out of the EU Trade Commissioner job.

“My intention is to continue to lead my party, to work hard in my job as Tánaiste and Minister of Trade, Enterprise and Employment, and become Taoiseach again in 2022.”

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe ruled himself out of the running this morning.

Speaking at Government Buildings this evening, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it had been a “tumultuous” few days for the government and the issue will be discussed tonight. 

Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said no one party owns the position and it is an appointment by the Irish government.

“I think the most important thing is that we get the best candidate, that we get somebody who can represent Ireland competently at the European Commission. That is really the sole criterion I think that should apply, so there’s no battle between parties in relation to this issue and it’ll be discussed,” he said.

Since Hogan’s resignation on Wednesday night, attention has turned to who may take his place.

While there is no guarantee Ireland will keep the trade portfolio, there is speculation over who will be nominated.

The names being mentioned include Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney; former Taoiseach Enda Kenny; David O’Sullivan, former EU Ambassador to the US; current MEP and former minister Frances Fitzgerald; Mairead McGuinness, a vice president of the European Parliament; and former minister Richard Bruton.

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Coveney is tipped as the favourite to replace Hogan as Ireland’s EU Commissioner. 

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke to the Taoiseach yesterday to notify him of the vacancy and to ask for “at least” two prospective nominations. She asked the Irish government to put forward the names of a man and a woman for the position. 

It is understood that there is a lot of interest in the job – but also in the vacancies the appointment of a minister might leave at the Cabinet table.

The Taoiseach said yesterday that it is important that someone with a “very, very high calibre” is nominated.

“The timeline is in the court of the Irish authorities,” a spokesperson for European Commission President von der Leyen said.

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