Simon Coveney

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Simon Coveney
TD
Simon Coveney (36268525943) Cropped.jpg
Tánaiste
Assumed office
30 November 2017
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Preceded by Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
Assumed office
14 June 2017
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Preceded by Charles Flanagan
Deputy Leader of Fine Gael
Assumed office
13 June 2017
Leader Leo Varadkar
Preceded by James Reilly
Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
In office
6 May 2016 – 14 June 2017
Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Preceded by Alan Kelly
Succeeded by Eoghan Murphy
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
20 July 2004 – 24 June 2007
Constituency South
Personal details
Born Simon Anthony Coveney
(1972-06-16) 16 June 1972 (age 46)
Cork, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Fine Gael
Spouse(s) Ruth Furney (m. 2008)
Children 3
Parents
Education Clongowes Wood College
Alma mater
Website Official website

Simon Anthony Coveney (born 16 June 1972) is an Irish Fine Gael politician who has served as Tánaiste since November 2017, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Deputy Leader of Fine Gael since June 2017. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Cork South-Central constituency since 1998. He previously served as Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government from 2016 to 2017, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine from 2011 to 2016 and Minister for Defence from 2014 to 2016. He served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the South constituency from 2004 to 2007.[1]

Coveney was born in Cork and completed a BSc. in Agriculture from the Royal Agricultural College, having earlier studied at University College Cork. He spent several years working as an agriculture adviser and farm manager. He was elected to Dáil Éireann in a by-election, following the death of his father Hugh Coveney. After an initial period on the backbenches, Coveney was promoted to the Front Bench by Michael Noonan, as deputy chief whip, remaining in this position until a 2002 reshuffle, when he became Spokesperson on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources under Enda Kenny. A three-year period in the European Parliament was followed by a return to domestic politics in 2007, when he was appointed Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. A 2010 reshuffle of the Front Bench saw him take over as Spokesperson on Transport.

After the formation of the coalition government in March 2011, Coveney was appointed Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. A cabinet reshuffle in July 2014, saw him also take over the position of Minister for Defence.[2] Following the formation of a Fine Gael minority government in May 2016, he was appointed Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.[3] In June 2017, after Leo Varadkar, succeeded Enda Kenny as Taoiseach, Varadkar appointed Coveney as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Deputy Leader of Fine Gael. He was appointed Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) in November 2017, following the resignation of Frances Fitzgerald.

Early life[edit]

Born in Cork, Coveney was the son of Hugh Coveney, a TD and a chartered quantity surveyor, also a member of one of the famous merchant 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.

His brother, Patrick, is chief executive of the food corporation Greencore.[5]

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 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 a Member of the European Parliament, Coveney held the position of human rights co-ordinator for the largest political group in the European Parliament, the European People's Party, and twice authored the Parliament's Annual Report on Human Rights in the world. He 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, as a result, he stepped down as a Member of the European Parliament. He was replaced in the European Parliament by Colm Burke.[6]

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 by Kenny.[7] Coveney was re-appointed to the front bench as Spokesperson on Transport.[8]

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 2011.[9]

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.[10] While there, Coveney cut a ribbon at the opening of a supermarket in Oran.[11][12]

In May 2014, Coveney attended a meeting of the Bilderberg Group, in Copenhagen.[13]

Minister for Defence: 2014–16[edit]

On 11 July 2014, Coveney was also appointed as Minister for Defence, in a cabinet reshuffle, following the resignation of Eamon Gilmore as Tánaiste. He took over from Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who was the acting Minister for Defence, following Alan Shatter's resignation from cabinet, in May 2014.[14] As Minister for Defence, Coveney launched the White Paper on Defence in August 2015.[15]

On 17 June 2015, Coveney questioned the judgment of an experienced Air Corps pilot who refused to fly him to Cork, because of predicted fog. In email correspondence between Department of Defence officials, the Air Corps is described as being “very unhappy” about the incident and[16] indicating that they had never received such a call in 25 years.”

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government: 2016–17[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.[17]

Fine Gael leadership election: 2017[edit]

On 2 June 2017, Coveney lost the 2017 Fine Gael leadership election to Leo Varadkar, despite gaining the support of 65% of party members (party members only had 25% of the vote in Fine Gael's electoral college). The winner was expected to succeed Enda Kenny as Taoiseach. On 13 June 2017, it was announced that he would be the deputy leader of the party.[18]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade: 2017–present[edit]

Coveney with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2018

After Leo Varadkar was appointed Taoiseach, by the President of Ireland, as part of his new cabinet, Coveney was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, with special responsibilities for Brexit.[19] Coveney replaced Charles Flanagan, who became Minister for Justice and Equality. It was understood Coveney heavily lobbied Varadkar for the role as he wanted a large role on Brexit.

Tánaiste[edit]

On 30 November 2017, Leo Varadkar named Coveney as the new Tánaiste, replacing Frances Fitzgerald.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Coveney married his long-time girlfriend Ruth Furney, an IDA Ireland employee, in July 2008. They have three daughters and live in Carrigaline in Cork.[21]

See also[edit]

References[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. ^ "Fionnan Sheahan: It's game on in Fine Gael as Simon goes on a listening tour and Leo sees his lead narrow in contest". Irish Independent. 6 May 2017. 
  6. ^ "Simon Coveney". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 7 March 2009. 
  7. ^ "Kenny survives confidence vote". RTÉ News. 17 June 2010. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  8. ^ "Bruton & Noonan return to Fine Gael frontbench". RTÉ News. 1 July 2010. Archived from the original on 4 July 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  9. ^ "Simon Coveney to attend EU agriculture talks". RTÉ News. 16 March 2011. 
  10. ^ McQuinn, Cormac; Sheehan, Aideen (9 November 2011). "Coveney stands by €26,000 spend on government jet". Irish Independent. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  11. ^ McQuinn, Cormac (8 November 2011). "Coveney 'cut ribbon' for shop on €26,000 jet trip to Algeria". Irish Independent. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  12. ^ "The Government Minister, the supermarket-opening and the €26,000 bill". JOE. 8 November 2011. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  13. ^ "This minister is heading to the secretive Bilderberg summit – but in a 'private capacity'". TheJournal.ie. 28 May 2014. Archived from the original on 8 June 2015. 
  14. ^ "Letter of resignation" (PDF). Static.rasset.ie. Retrieved 7 August 2018. 
  15. ^ Minihan, Mary (27 August 2015). "Simon Coveney says Ireland has under-invested in defence". The Irish Times. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  16. ^ "Coveney challenged pilot who refused to fly due to fog forecast". Irishtimes.ie. Retrieved 7 August 2018. 
  17. ^ "Frances Fitzgerald is Tánaiste in new Cabinet". RTÉ News. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 6 May 2016. 
  18. ^ "Varadkar appoints Coveney as deputy Fine Gael leader". RTÉ News. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 13 June 2017. 
  19. ^ "Coveney appointed Irish foreign minister". BBC News. 15 June 2017. 
  20. ^ "Everything you need to know about the new Tánaiste Simon Coveney". Irish Independent. 1 December 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2017. 
  21. ^ Riegel, Ralph (3 March 2011). "Coveney thinking of cots, not cabinets, after daughter's birth". Irish Independent. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 

External links[edit]

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

1998–present
Incumbent
European Parliament
New constituency Member of the European Parliament
for South

2004–07
Succeeded by
Colm Burke
Political offices
Preceded by
Brendan Smith
as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine
2011–16
Succeeded by
Michael Creed
Preceded by
Enda Kenny
Acting
Minister for Defence
2014–16
Succeeded by
Enda Kenny
Preceded by
Alan Kelly
as Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government
Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
2016–17
Succeeded by
Eoghan Murphy
Preceded by
Charles Flanagan
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade
2017–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Frances Fitzgerald
Tánaiste
2017–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
James Reilly
Deputy Leader of Fine Gael
2017–present
Incumbent