Simon Coveney linked with European Parliament run

James Cox

Speculation is turning to Simon Coveney's political future after he announced he will step away from Cabinet when the Dáil resumes next week.

The Minister for Enterprise told Fine Gael's new leader Simon Harris that he would not be available to serve in the Cabinet after 13 years in such a position.

He is yet to confirm whether he plans to run as a candidate in the next general election, and it is thought he may be considering running for a European Parliament seat again.

Mr Coveney previously served as an MEP between 2004 and 2007.

Senior sources within Fine Gael told the Irish Examiner Mr Coveney may seek to run for the party in the upcoming European elections in June.

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 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.