IS SIMON COVENEY trying to emulate British Tory prime minister Harold McMillan’s electoral slogan, “You’ve never had it so good”, in an effort to galvanise Fine Gael as the party slips into demoralisation and leadership speculation? In a recent Irish Examiner interview, Covetous Coveney insisted that the Irish people should appreciate this instead of abandoning his party at the next general election. However, Coveney’s real message was that he was remaining in Irish politics and also in his Cork South Central (Cork SC) constituency.
Not everyone is convinced and some party members believe Covetous is planning to move to Cork East – especially since Goldhawk broke the news that he had bought a family house in Cork East’s Cobh (see The Phoenix 17/6/22). Also, FG research carried out just before his move indicated that the four-seat Cork SC might not return an FG seat at the next general election.
Like many politicians, especially FG ones, Covetous will be scrutinising the boundary revisions when they are made known later this year. If Cork SC gets an extra seat then he will remain there; if not, Cork East will be a strong attraction for him. He told the Examiner there were “very promising councillors” that could take retiring TD David Stanton’s seat for FG but this is a little optimistic and only underlines the need for a high-profile candidate like, well, Coveney, should the need arise.
Cobh councillor Sinéad Sheppard’s name has been mentioned but this is regarded as an exercise in gauging reaction, which has been watery despite the need for a female candidate and her minor exposure in pop band Six some years ago.
Another FG Cobh councillor, farmer Cathal Barry, is stronger but has turned the offer down flat in the past. Another possibility is Fermoy councillor Kay Dawson, an aunt of party general secretary John Carroll, but she is not seen as a strong candidate either.
A non-elected dark horse is Cork County GAA board member Tracey Kennedy, better known than any FG councillor in Cork East.
Simon Coveney will likely wait to see the results of local elections next year before making any definite decisions.