Simon Harris 'not losing sleep' over possibility of being dropped from Cabinet position

UPDATE 3.50pm: Health Minister Simon Harris says he is not losing sleep over whether he will be dropped from Cabinet if Leo Varadkar is elected Taoiseach

But Minister Harris said that consistency is needed in the Health portfolio given the challenges the country faces.

He said he's going to remain focused on the health agenda.

"I have a very busy agenda in the department of health and I'm working through as many issues as I can.

"Creating an autism strategy, trying to hire 1,200 new nurses and putting in place a 10-year plan with the opposition so that we can actually agree on health issues.

"We have a very packed agenda and whoever is the leader of the Fine Gael party will have to make choices."

EARLIER: Simon Coveney has said there needs to be a post mortem of how the Fine Gael leadership race has been run.

He believes the candidate debates should happen before members of the Parliamentary Party declare who they are voting for.

It comes after Leo Varadkar took a commanding lead among the parliamentary party in the first two days of the campaign. Forty-five of the 73-member parliamentary party have declared for Varadkar, and 20 for Coveney.

At last night's debate in Carlow, Simon Coveney said candidates should have to outline their policies before any declarations are made.

"We need to have a full post mortem when the entire process is concluded, but my initial view is we should be having a hustings on night one, rather than on night five or six, because of the immediacy of politics now and the pressure on Oireachtas members to declare early, he said.

Meanwhile, his opponent Leo Varadkar said he would be a Taoiseach that could bring people together, using the moment to have a jab at Coveney's campaign.

He said: "I absolutely acknowledge the really great role that Simon played in helping us put together this Government, which has lasted more than a year.

"I can also bring people together. You've seen that in the last week or so - I've brought almost all the Cabinet behind me, and the vast majority of the Ministers of State and most of the parliamentary party."

There are two remaining hustings - tonight at the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe, Co Galway at 8pm and tomorrow at the same time in Cork's Silver Springs hotel.

Both will be broadcast live on the Fine Gael facebook page.


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