Tale of two Simons is a political Lannigan’s Ball

World of Politics with Harry McGee

The tale of the two Simons is like Lannigan’s Ball; one stepped out and one stepped in again. The news on Tuesday morning that Simon Coveney would stand down from Cabinet when the Dáil resumes next week was not a huge surprise – certainly nothing like the bombshell delivered by Leo Varadkar.

There have been rumours for months that the Cork South Central TD might call it a day after 26 years in the Dáil – although he is still a relatively young man.

While Coveney has not yet said for definite he will not contest next year’s election, his decision to step down from Cabinet more or less confirms that he will not stand again.

I’m not going to make this column an assessment of Coveney. Suffice to say he was a substantial politician, who worked tremendously hard and came into his own during Brexit. He was in a number of portfolios over the years and the stand outs were Foreign Affairs and Enterprise.

He also gave Leo Varadkar a good run for his money when he contested the leadership in 2017, even though the contest was never really in any doubt. Coveney could be a little colourless and bland at times but that was made up by sheer endeavour and sweat.

Did he go before he was pushed? Or to use Varadkar’s phrase, did he fall on his own sword before someone else stabbed him in the back?

He accepted there would be “jockeying for position” in the new Cabinet and added he did not know if he would have been selected.

His decision effectively removed that headache from Harris – it would have been a bold move for him to effectively demote one of the most experienced political heads if he didn’t accede to it.

I’m almost losing count of the number of Fine Gael TDs who won’t be contesting the next election. It’s thirteen now and counting. There are a few more who have yet to make their minds up or announce.

Pictured: Every dog has his day…a youthful Simon Coveney on a visit to Galway some years back.

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