Simon Coveney to step down from Cabinet

James Cox

Simon Coveney has announced he will step down from Cabinet when the Dáil resumes next week.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said he informed incoming taoiseach Simon Harris of his decision on Monday night.

He said he will continue to work as a "proud TD" for Cork South Central.

In a post on X, Mr Coveney wrote: "Last night I spoke to @SimonHarrisTD to inform him that I would not be making myself available to serve in cabinet when the Dáil resumes next week. I’ll continue to work as a proud TD for Cork South Central and will of course actively support the Government in the Dáil."

Mr Harris is set to be confirmed as the new taoiseach following a vote in the Dáil on Tuesday, April 9th.

He is considering the shape of his new Cabinet, and sources said he would seek assurances from ministers that they would run in the next general election.

This may indicate Mr Coveney intends to bring his political career to an end. However, when he was asked whether he would run again by Claire Byrne on RTÉ radio, he replied: “It’s not a yes, and it’s not a no."

Mr Coveney has been Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment since December 2022.

He served as tánaiste and from late 2017 until June 2022. He is also Fine Gael deputy leader, but political sources have indicated Mr Harris has decided he will name Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys as the party's new number two.

Mr Coveney previously served as minister for agriculture and minister for defence.

He was minister for foreign affairs and trade for five years, and played a key role in Brexit negotiations.

In the RTÉ interview, Mr Coveney said: ""I respect the fact he's made it clear [Simon Harris] that he wants to create a new-look Fine Gael in many ways, to promote new talent in the party.

"I know he was struggling with the decision in relation to who’d be in and who’d be out, and I think that for me being in the Cabinet, which has been an amazing experience for 13 years, I felt that the time was right both from his point of view and mine for him to give him the space to create new opportunity in the party."

He added: "One of the most difficult things for an incoming party leader and taoiseach is to form a team that can slot into Government well, particularly in an election year.

"I totally respect that that’s a really difficult decision for Simon, he’s going to be the youngest Taoiseach ever.

"He's a really talented person, I think he’ll want to bring forward new idea and energy in the party and I think he’ll want to bring a team with him to do that."