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Simon Coveney

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Preceded by
Enda Kenny (acting)


Ruth Furney (m. 2008)


Simon Coveney

Fine Gael

Cork South-Central

Teachta Dala

Patrick F. Coveney

Political party
Fine Gael

Hugh Coveney

Simon Coveney Irish government knew of horsemeat burger scandal before

Preceded by
Brendan Smith (Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

16 June 1972 (age 51) Cork, Ireland (

Member of Dail Eireann since 1998

University College Cork, Gurteen College, Clongowes Wood College, Royal Agricultural University

Defence minister simon coveney christmas message to the troops

Simon Anthony Coveney (born 16 June 1972) is an Irish Fine Gael politician who has served as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Deputy Leader of Fine Gael since June 2017. He has been a Teachta Dála (TD) since 1998, currently for the Cork South-Central constituency. He previously served as Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government from 2016 to 2017, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine from 2011 to 2016 and Minister for Defence from 2014 to 2016. He served as Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the South constituency from 2004 to 2007.


Simon Coveney Simon Coveney Broadsheetie

Coveney was born in Cork and completed a BSc. in Agriculture from the Royal Agricultural College, having earlier studied at University College Cork. He spent several years working as an agriculture adviser and farm manager. He was elected to Dáil Éireann in a by-election following the death of his father Hugh Coveney.

Simon Coveney Simon Coveney TD Flickr Photo Sharing

After an initial period on the backbenches, Coveney was promoted to the Front Bench by Michael Noonan as deputy chief whip, remaining in this position until a 2002 reshuffle when he became Spokesperson on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources under Enda Kenny. A three-year period as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) was followed by a return to domestic politics in 2007 when he was appointed Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. A 2010 reshuffle of the Front Bench saw him take over as Spokesperson on Transport.

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After the formation of the Coalition Government in March 2011, Coveney was appointed Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. A cabinet reshuffle in July 2014 saw him also take over the position of Minister for Defence. Following the formation of a Fine Gael minority government in May 2016, he was appointed Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

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After losing the 2017 party leadership election, Coveney was appointed Deputy Leader of Fine Gael. In June 2017, after Leo Varadkar succeeded Enda Kenny as Taoiseach, Coveney was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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Simon coveney wins cork south central by election 1998

Early life

Born in Cork, Coveney was the son of Hugh Coveney, a TD and a chartered quantity surveyor and a member of one of the famous merchant prince families in the city. He was educated locally in Cork before later attending Clongowes Wood College, County Kildare. He was expelled from the college in Transition Year and completed his secondary school education in Presentation Brothers College, Cork. Coveney subsequently attended University College Cork and Gurteen Agricultural College, before completing a BSc in Agriculture and Land Management from Royal Agricultural College, Gloucestershire. In 1997/8 he led the “Sail Chernobyl Project” which involved sailing a boat 30,000 miles around the world and raising €650,000 for charity.

His brother, Patrick, is chief executive of the food corporation Greencore.

Early years in Dáil Éireann: 1998–2004

Coveney was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael candidate for Cork South-Central in a by-election caused by the death of his father in 1998. In spite of being a strong supporter of party leader John Bruton, he remained on the opposition backbenches for a number of years.

In 2001 discipline in the parliamentary party broke down and Coveney came out against Bruton in a leadership heave. His loss of support was a surprise and encouraged others to vote against Bruton. The subsequent leadership contest was won by Michael Noonan and a new front bench was put in place. Coveney was subsequently promoted to the position of deputy chief whip.

Coveney was re-elected at the 2002 general election in what turned out to be a disaster for Fine Gael. The party lost twenty-three seats and some of its most important party figures. Noonan was replaced as party leader by Enda Kenny who promoted Coveney to the position of spokesperson on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in his new front bench.

Member of the European Parliament: 2004–07

Coveney was elected to the European Parliament for the South constituency in the 2004 European Parliament election. During his three years as an MEP, Coveney held the position of human rights co-ordinator for the largest political group in the European Parliament, the EPP-ED, and twice authored the Parliament's Annual Report on Human Rights in the world. He spearheaded the Stop the Traffic campaign at the European Parliament. He was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Delegation for Relations with the USA and a substitute on the Human Rights Subcommittee, Fisheries Committee, Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee and the Delegation for Relations with Iran.

Return to the Dáil: 2007–11

Coveney returned to Ireland to contest the 2007 general election. He was successful in being returned to the Dáil and, as a result, stepped down as an MEP. He was replaced in the European Parliament by Colm Burke.

Fine Gael won back many of the seats that the party had lost five years earlier; however, they still fell short of forming a coalition government with the Labour Party. Coveney returned to the party's front bench as spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

In June 2010, Coveney and a number of other front bench spokespersons stated that they had no confidence in their party leader, Enda Kenny. A subsequent confidence motion in the leader was won. Coveney was re-appointed to the front bench as spokesperson on Transport.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine: 2011–14

On 9 March 2011, Coveney was appointed Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in the new Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition government.

He attended his first meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers in Brussels on 17 March.

Coveney provoked controversy when, in September 2011, he flew to Algeria on the government jet at a cost of more than €26,000 to the Irish taxpayer when there were flights available for €16,331. While there, Coveney cut a ribbon at the opening of a supermarket in Oran.

In May 2014, Coveney attended a meeting of the Bilderberg Group in Copenhagen.

Minister for Defence: 2014–16

On 11 July 2014, Coveney was also appointed as Minister for Defence in cabinet reshuffle following the resignation of Eamon Gilmore as Tánaiste. He took over from Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who was acting Minister for Defence following Alan Shatter's resignation from government in May 2014. As Minister for Defence, Coveney launched the White Paper on Defence in August 2015.

On June 17, 2015 Coveney questioned the judgment of an experienced Air Corps pilot who refused to fly him to Cork because of predicted fog.
In email correspondence between Department of Defence officials, the Air Corps is described as being “very unhappy” about the incident. indicating that they had never received such a call in 25 years.”

Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government: 2016–2017

On 6 May 2016, Coveney was appointed the new Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny taking over the Defence portfolio and Fine Gael TD Michael Creed becoming the new Minister for Agriculture.

Candidate for Leader of Fine Gael, 2017

On 2 June 2017, Coveney lost the 2017 Fine Gael leadership election to Leo Varadkar, despite gaining the support of 65% of party members (party members only had 25% of the vote in Fine Gael's electoral college). The winner was expected to succeed Enda Kenny as Taoiseach. On 13 June, it was announced that he would be the deputy leader of the party.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

After Leo Varadkar was appointed Taoiseach by the Dail, as part of his cabinet reshuffle he appointed Coveney Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade with special responsibilities for Brexit. Coveney replaced Charles Flanagan, who became Minister for Justice and Equality. It was understood Coveney heavily lobbied Varadkar for the role as he wanted a large role on Brexit.

Personal life

Coveney married his long-time girlfriend Ruth Furney, an IDA Ireland employee, in July 2008. They have three daughters.


Simon Coveney Wikipedia