Leo Varadkar appoints Simon Coveney as deputy leader of Fine Gael

Leo Varadkar appoints Simon Coveney as deputy leader of Fine Gael

Incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has appointed beaten Fine Gael leadership contender Simon Coveney as his new deputy leader in a move that risks being seen as a potential snub to his closest rival, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.

Mr Varadkar confirmed the move at a private meeting of the party's TDs, senators and MEPs this afternoon, before formally announcing it in a statement just before 5pm.

The decision to appoint Mr Coveney as deputy leader is likely to be seen by some as a snub to the beaten leadership contender, as he had been widely tipped to become Tánaiste in the newly arranged Cabinet.

However, it has been noted there is nothing preventing a deputy leader also becoming Tánaiste, a move which before the mid-2000s was commonplace in Irish Governments.

In a statement confirming the appointment, Mr Varadkar said: "I am really delighted to appoint Simon Coveney as deputy leader of Fine Gael and as a member of the Party's executive council.

"Simon and I will work together to guide the participation by Fine Gael in the Government, and reform and modernise the Fine Gael party in the years ahead."

In the same statement, Mr Coveney was quoted as saying: "I am honoured to have been asked to take on the role of deputy leader of Fine Gael. I will ensure this is an active role which reaches out to the members of the party across the country.

"I look forward to working with the new leader of Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar, and believe that I can bring a strong focus and energy to the party from the grassroots members through to local councillors, and up to the parliamentary party.

"This is an exciting new chapter for the party and I intend to play a strong role in it."

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