Simon Coveney

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Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney, Minister of Defence (cropped).jpg
Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
Assumed office
6 May 2016
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Preceded by New office
Minister for Defence
In office
11 July 2014 – 6 May 2016
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Preceded by Enda Kenny (acting)
Succeeded by Enda Kenny
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine
In office
9 March 2011 – 6 May 2016
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Preceded by Brendan Smith
Succeeded by Michael Creed
Teachta Dála
Assumed office
October 1998
Constituency Cork South-Central
Member of the European Parliament
In office
June 2004 – June 2007
Constituency South
Personal details
Born (1972-06-16) 16 June 1972 (age 44)
Cork, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Fine Gael
Spouse(s) Ruth Furney
Children 3
Alma mater University College Cork
Gurteen College
Royal Agricultural University
Website Official website

Simon Coveney (born 16 June 1972) is an Irish Fine Gael politician who has served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South-Central since 1998. In March 2011 he became Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Enda Kenny's coalition government.[1] Coveney was appointed as Minister for Defence as part of a cabinet reshuffle in July 2014.[2] Coveney left the Defence and Agriculture portfolios to become the new Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government on 6 May 2016.[3]

Early life[edit]

Born in Cork, Coveney was the son of Hugh Coveney, a TD and a chartered quantity surveyor and a member of one of the famous merchant prince families in the city. He was educated locally in Cork before later attending Clongowes Wood College, County Kildare. He was expelled from the college in Transition Year and completed his secondary school education in Presentation Brothers College, Cork.[4] Coveney subsequently attended University College Cork and Gurteen Agricultural College, before completing a BSc in Agriculture and Land Management from Royal Agricultural College, Gloucestershire. In 1997/8 he led the “Sail Chernobyl Project” which involved sailing a boat 30,000 miles around the world and raising €650,000 for charity.

Political career[edit]

Early years in Dáil Éireann: 1998–2004[edit]

Coveney was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael candidate for Cork South-Central in a by-election caused by the death of his father in 1998. In spite of being a strong supporter of party leader John Bruton, he remained on the opposition backbenches for a number of years.

In 2001 discipline in the parliamentary party broke down and Coveney came out against Bruton in a leadership heave. His loss of support was a surprise and encouraged others to vote against Bruton. The subsequent leadership contest was won by Michael Noonan and a new front bench was put in place. Coveney was subsequently promoted to the position of deputy chief whip.

Coveney was re-elected at the 2002 general election in what turned out to be a disaster for Fine Gael. The party lost twenty-three seats and some of its most important party figures. Noonan was replaced as party leader by Enda Kenny who promoted Coveney to the position of spokesperson on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in his new front bench.

Member of the European Parliament: 2004–07[edit]

Coveney was elected to the European Parliament for the South constituency in the 2004 European Parliament election.

During his three years as an MEP, Coveney held the position of human rights co-ordinator for the largest political group in the European Parliament, the EPP-ED, and twice authored the Parliament's Annual Report on Human Rights in the world. He also spearheaded the Stop the Traffic campaign at the European Parliament. He was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Delegation for Relations with the USA and a substitute on the Human Rights Subcommittee, Fisheries Committee, Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee and the Delegation for Relations with Iran.

Return to the Dáil: 2007–11[edit]

Coveney returned to Ireland to contest the 2007 general election. He was successful in being returned to the Dáil and, as a result, stepped down as an MEP. He was replaced in the European Parliament by Colm Burke.[5]

Fine Gael won back many of the seats that the party had lost five years earlier; however, they still fell short of forming a coalition government with the Labour Party. Coveney returned to the party's front bench as spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

In June 2010, Coveney and a number of other front bench spokespersons stated that they had no confidence in their party leader, Enda Kenny. A subsequent confidence motion in the leader was won.[6] Coveney was re-appointed to the front bench as spokesperson on Transport.[7]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine: 2011–14[edit]

On 9 March 2011, Coveney was appointed Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in the new Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition government.

He attended his first meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers in Brussels on 17 March.[8]

Coveney provoked controversy when, in September 2011, he flew to Algeria on the government jet at a cost of more than €26,000 to the Irish taxpayer when there were flights available for €16,331.[9] While there, Coveney cut a ribbon at the opening of a supermarket in Oran.[10][11]

In May 2014, Coveney attended a meeting of the Bilderberg Group in Copenhagen.[12]

Minister for Defence: 2014–16[edit]

On 11 July 2014, Coveney was also appointed as Minister for Defence in cabinet reshuffle following the resignation of Eamon Gilmore as Tánaiste. He took over from Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who was acting Minister for Defence following Alan Shatter's resignation from government in May 2014.[13] As Minister for Defence, Coveney launched the White Paper on Defence in August 2015.[14]

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government: 2016–present[edit]

On 6 May 2016, Coveney was appointed the new Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny taking over the Defence portfolio and Fine Gael TD Michael Creed becoming the new Minister for Agriculture.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Coveney married his long-time girlfriend Ruth Furney, an IDA Ireland employee, in July 2008. They have three daughters.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mr. Simon Coveney". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  2. ^ "Taoiseach announces new Cabinet". RTÉ News. Retrieved 11 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Frances Fitzgerald is Tánaiste in new Cabinet". RTÉ News. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  4. ^ "Miriam Meets...... Patrick and Simon Coveney, TD". RTÉ Radio 1. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "Simon Coveney". Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  6. ^ "Kenny survives confidence vote". RTÉ News. 17 June 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  7. ^ "Bruton & Noonan return to Fine Gael frontbench". RTÉ News. 1 July 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  8. ^ "Simon Coveney to attend EU agriculture talks". RTÉ News. 16 March 2011. 
  9. ^ McQuinn, Cormac; Sheehan, Aideen (9 November 2011). "Coveney stands by €26,000 spend on government jet". Irish Independent. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  10. ^ McQuinn, Cormac (8 November 2011). "Coveney 'cut ribbon' for shop on €26,000 jet trip to Algeria". Irish Independent. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  11. ^ "The Government Minister, the supermarket-opening and the €26,000 bill". JOE. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  12. ^ "This minister is heading to the secretive Bilderberg summit – but in a 'private capacity'". 28 May 2014. Archived from the original on 8 June 2015. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Minihan, Mary (27 August 2015). "Simon Coveney says Ireland has under-invested in defence". The Irish Times. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  15. ^ "Frances Fitzgerald is Tánaiste in new Cabinet". RTÉ News. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  16. ^ Riegel, Ralph (3 March 2011). "Coveney thinking of cots, not cabinets, after daughter's birth". Irish Independent. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Hugh Coveney
Fine Gael
Fine Gael Teachta Dála
for Cork South-Central

European Parliament
New constituency Member of the European Parliament
for South

Succeeded by
Colm Burke
Political offices
Preceded by
Brendan Smith
as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Succeeded by
Michael Creed
Preceded by
Enda Kenny
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by
Enda Kenny
New office Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government