Simon Coveney has warned against dropping Health Minister Simon Harris from Cabinet for the sake of the Fine Gael party, writes Elaine Loughlin, Political Reporter.
As new Fine Gael leader, Leo Varadkar mulls over who he will keep in cabinet and who will be promoted to a ministerial position, his leadership rival has said he "hopes and expects" that Mr Harris will be retained.
Mr Coveney has also refused to indicate whether he has spoken to Mr Varadkar about whether he will be appointed Tánaiste when the new Cabinet is expected to be announced next Tuesday.
Wicklow TD, Mr Harris was one of the most high-profile Fine Gael members to back the Housing Minister in his failed leadership bid and there are now fears that he will be punished for doing so.
When asked about this, Mr Coveney said: "Simon Harris is a very talented guy, a very able communicator, he is only 30 years of age, he has a huge contribution to make to politics so I would hope and expect that he will be part of Leo's plan.
"One if the things I have made very clear to Leo is that we need to unify the party now and people who supported me shouldn't in any way be damaged by that in terms of their career," he told Opinion Line on Cork’s 96FM presented by PJ Coogan.