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Varadkar edges ahead of Coveney in Fine Gael leadership poll

Among Fine Gael supporters, 35% preferred Leo Varadkar, while 30% chose Simon Coveney.

Image: RollingNews.ie

LEO VARADKAR IS leading the pack slightly in the race for the Fine Gael leadership.

In a new Sunday Business Post/Red C poll published today, Social Protection Minister Varadkar is on 29%, with Housing Minister Simon Coveney on his heels at 27%.

Here’s how those polled felt about the other possible contenders:

  • Richard Bruton; 10%
  • Paschal Donohoe; 5%
  • Simon Harris; 4%
  • Frances Fitzgerald; 3%

Varadkar has been minister for transport, health, and now social protection, and received praise in the past for publicly defending whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

His transparent and frank way of speaking, as well as frequent media appearances have shown him to be popular among voters – although this poll shows that hasn’t won him much of a lead.

Simon Coveney, a previous minister for agriculture and Cork native, has won favour for working on issues within the rural community. He has also been tasked with tackling the housing and homelessness issues in Ireland.

Fine Gael Have A Parliamentary Party Meeting Tonight Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Speaking today on RTÉ’s Marian Finucane Show, Varadkar said that it was important to remember that there was no leadership contest launched, and he apologised to the public that they would have to listen to political rumours about it for the next six weeks.

A fellow panellist quipped that he could cut that time frame short if he wanted.

He added that he and Coveney didn’t agree to back down in demanding Enda Kenny give a timeline for stepping down, but they did agree the party needs to be united no matter who is elected.

The two of us are very determined that whatever the outcome that the party is united [after the result].

He added that a new poll showing support for the parties, which saw Fine Gael remain on 24% despite the garda controversy in recent weeks, was a relief for the party.

“We tend to do better in Red C Polls than in other polls, but the poll is reassuring for the party. At 24%, we’re only one [percentage point] lower than the election result.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told a parliamentary party last week that he would give a timeline for his departure after returning from his visit to the White House for St Patrick’s Day.

Read: New poll shows that support for Sinn Féin is at its highest level in a year

Read: The contenders for the Fine Gael leadership, ranked from most to least likely

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