21 May 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth
Both Simon Coveney TD (Cork) and Leo Varadkar TD (Dublin) are both in the headlines, with each vying to become the next leader of the Fine Gael Party. Whoever wins the internal party vote will also become the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland.
Last evening Simon Coveney held a rally in his home constituency of Cork South Central. It took place in the new Capitol Building on the Grand Parade, Cork City.
Extracts from Minister Simon Coveney’s speech
“We are going to finish what we started in this process and this party made a decision a number of years ago that the next time we go through the process of electing a new Leader to take this party and this country forward that we will change the way that will be done. That we will ensure every member of this party and ever public rep in this party will have there say. We have an electorate of 21,000 it is not an electorate of 73.”
“I want to say a number of things to my Oireachtas colleagues, firstly I want to thank all of them, those who have supported me in the last 2 -3 days . Sometimes in politics like in life, swimming against the tide makes you stronger so that when the tide changes you can go in front, and that’s what we intend to to in this campaign.”
“This process that we are going through its about two things, choosing the right person to lead our party and also given the circumstances we are currently in its about choosing the right person to lead the country. Through all of the challenges, on the back of all of the dreams people in Ireland have , that government needs to intervene to help them to create, this party is different to other parties in Ireland. All of you who are here tonight, you are here for a reason , you renew your membership each year and there is a reason why you come out each election year and between them and its because you believe in something”.
“This is the party that needs to think big, this is the party that needs a plan and a vision for what Ireland wants to look like in 5, 10, 15 years time and you know what we are putting that plan together, that is what this leadership contest should be about. Ideas and drive and the ability to actually make that happen. I have heard to date in this leadership contest, Micheal Collins being quoted and just because someone from Dublin wants to use Michael Collins quotes , I think it is appropriate that maybe a Cork man would quote Michael Collins, “Ireland to which we are true is an idea.”
“We need to talk about what this process is about the conversations that will take place in the hustling’s we will have on 4 nights next week when the conversations will take place during the canvassing during the events during the email conversations that I have had with many of you in recent days and I hope I will have in the coming days. Because this party as I said earlier is not about self-promotion it is about Leadership in a very uncertain world. It is about finding a way to solve problems that others don’t have many solutions for we need that on Brexit.”
“How many of ye in your homes were actually fearful for the future 6 years ago. I can remember that and he (The Taoiseach) changed that, he and Michael Noonan and many others who are now moving on from the political stage, by handing over to me and many others from the party and we took on the responsibility to listen to view and we will work together as a partnership to give non populous leadership in this country in the future and you know what we will be respected for that.”
“Finally I want to say a few things about the Oireachtas members in the party. I want to say I respect peoples choices. With leadership contest these things often start out as 50-50 when that contest begins, when one candidate goes in front of the other on so called declarations, well then you have a tide effect and a lot of the middle ground don’t want to get caught out, they want to be on the winning side and that is what we have seen in the last 48 hours.
Let me be very clear that is not a criticism of my colleagues because every one of my Oireachtas colleagues are being followed to their cars by the media , being put under pressure and asked who they are going to declare for and so it is not a surprise that a lot of them have come out and are supporting my opponent. And good luck to them and well done to Leo in the last few days, but this process for us, party members and public representatives still has a long way to travel. We need to be mature about that, we need to stick together through that process and we need to make an informed choice as to who is the best person to lead this party into the future, who shares the value system of this party, who is the person who actually represents what this party needs to be about in 2017, who is the person who has the talents to hold a minority government together, to keep a confidence and supply agreement in place with the old enemy. Who is the person who has proven themselves on a European stage, to negotiate big deals and to find common ground where others thought it wasn’t possible, let me say to you very clearly”