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Simon Coveney speaking to reporters in Athlone today.
Cabinet Reshuffle

Simon Coveney confirms he will be running in the next general election

Coveney made the announcement today in Athlone where Simon Harris is to be announced the new party leader.

FORMER TÁNAISTE AND deputy leader of Fine Gael Simon Coveney has said that he will be running in the next general election.

Speculation has been rife about what form a Cabinet reshuffle will take once Simon Harris becomes Taoiseach when the Dáil returns.

It is understood Harris will ask ministers if they plan to seek re-election, and if they do not, could be moved out of their ministerial positions.

Speaking to reporters in Athlone today, where Harris is set to be formally announced as the new leader of Fine Gael, Coveney said he looks forward to working with Harris.

“I think it is going to be a really good change, actually. It is an opportunity for renewal, for new talent to emerge in the party and I think Simon is going to handle that very well,” said Coveney.

Coveney had sought to become leader of Fine Gael in 2017, but lost out to Leo Varadkar in the leadership race. Earlier this week, he ruled himself out of going for leader again, stating: “I had my chance, I wasn’t successful the last time.”

“This is his call,” Coveney said, adding that he will “respect his view”. 

Harris has “difficult choices” to make, Coveney acknowledged, stating that the new Taoiseach will need to get the “balance right”. 

He said that will mean that some people will be let down, while some will be given an opportunity.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee is also seen as a possible Cabinet move, and some TDs are stating that they think she will be moved to Enterprise, while Minister Heather Humphreys could be put back into the Department of Justice.

Asked by the media if they were nervous about the possible reshuffle, McEntee said it is the prerogative of the Taoiseach to make any changes he wants to Cabinet, but added, “I have a lot of work to do still in justice, but it is a decision of the Taoiseach”.

The other ministers, such as Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe, were also tight-lipped at the press event, stating that they agreed with all the previous speakers.

Humphreys said it is up to Harris to decide, stating “he will certainly have to do that job in due course”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister of State Josepha Madigan were not present at the press notice.

With Madigan’s shock resignation, there is room for more changes at Cabinet level.

Ministers of State Peter Burke and Jennifer Carroll MacNeill are frontrunners in the promotion to any Cabinet position.

Other names mentioned have included Brendan Griffin, who ruled himself out for re-election.

He did not get the nod for a Cabinet position last time around from Varadkar, making the call that he would not stand again. However, it is understood that Harris is trying to woo him back to the table.

There was also some chatter about Paul Kehoe TD coming back into the fold, but he told The Journal: “I will not be changing my mind when I did decide the leadership of the party was not a factor.”