Latest: Simon Coveney: ‘I’m not used to being an underdog, in politics or in life’

Update 11.30am: Simon Coveney said he would not still be in the Fine Gael leadership contest if he did not think he could win it.

He trails Leo Varadkar, but is still hopeful he can convince some of Leo's supporters to switch their allegiance.

The Housing Minister believes he is the right person to take over from Enda Kenny and said it was an unusual feeling to be seen as unlikely to win.

“I wouldn't be in this contest if I didn’t think I was the best person for the job.

“I’m not used to being an underdog actually, in politics or in life for that matter. Normally I am starting in front and trying to stay there. So this is an unusual place for me to be in.

“It is a real test of character as far as I'm concerned.”

He also said he would have no problem with serving in cabinet under Leo Varadkar if it came to that.

Earlier: An Independent Alliance Minister has moved to defend Leo Varadkar in the Fine Gael leadership race.

On Monday, Minister Varadkar announced he would make Labour Court recommendations binding on employers and workers in "essential services".

It would prevent certain workers from going on strike.

Speaking this morning Junior Minister John Halligan thinks Mr Varadkar's quote was misunderstood.

He said: "Well I think he may have been misquoted in a sense, and I'll tell you why.

"I'm a great believer in a negotiated settlement for all disputes, and I've been in a trade union all my life.

"Now, what I have found disconcerting and I have always found unacceptable is that, when either management would go to Labour Court or workers would go to Labour Court, the Labour Court would make a recommendation and then it would not be upheld."


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