Coveney ‘should have known better’ over FF coalition remarks

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch criticises disloyalty to Government

Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney “should have known better” than to say he is willing to consider a pact with Fianna Fáil after the next election.

Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney “should have known better” than to say he is willing to consider a pact with Fianna Fáil after the next election.

 

Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch said the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney “should have known better” than to say he is willing to consider a pact with Fianna Fáil after the next election.

Speaking at the launch of a new fitness- to-practise regime for health and social care professionals, Ms Lynch said she had a difficulty with “that level of disloyalty.”

“ Simon’s preference after the election will be Simon’s business. I don’t have a difficulty with that. What I have a difficulty with is a senior minister in the present Government having that level of disloyalty while the Government is in place. And I really feel he should have known better,” she said.

Asked whether her any of her colleagues shared her views, she said she hadn’t discussed it with them.

In an interview in the Irish Examiner, Mr Coveney said his preference was for the present Government to be re-elected but said his party would have to look at other options if itself and Labour could not make up the numbers.

He firmly ruled out Sinn Féin but added: “I don’t have any ideological problem with forming a coalition with Fianna Fáil. As long as we can hammer out a programme for government, that is something that Fine Gael can support.

In reference to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who is a constituency colleague in Cork South Central, he said: “I know Micheál a long time; I don’t have any problem with him. I think he is very competent. I’m not going to start suggesting that he’d be a good tánaiste, because I don’t know.

There was a mixed reaction within Fine Gael to Mr Coveney’s comments.

Mr Coveney’s Cork South Central colleague Jerry Buttimer said on Tuesday he was dead set against any such arrangement because of what he described as the “untold damage” Fianna Fáil had inflicted on the State.

“I personally wouldn’t be in favour of letting Fianna Fáil back into government in any shape or form,” he said.

Meath East TD Regina Doherty said she would not be happy personally about going into government with Fianna Fáil. “We are picking up the pieces of their policies from the last term. Besides, they do not have any substantial policies at the moment that can be scrutinised.

Responding on Tuesday, Labour Party Minister Brendan Howlin said he would leave Mr Coveney to explain his own actions and declined to make any further comment.

Another influential Dublin Fine Gael deputy said privately that Simon Coveney was completely “off message” with his comments and not keeping with party strategy.