Former Minister of Agriculture enters the race for the Fine Gael leadership

The former Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, has recently announced that he will enter the race to become the next leader of the Fine Gael party.

Yesterday, Enda Kenny announced that he would retire from the role of leader; a decision which came into effect at midnight on May 17.

Kenny has asked for a new party leader to be selected, through the Fine Gael leadership election process, by close of business on Friday, June 2.

Meanwhile, he has declared that he will continue to carry out his duties as party leader and Taoiseach throughout this internal election process.

The Cork South Central TD, who is currently the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, is expected to contest the election to become leader of the Fine Gael party with the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar; an announcement is expected from Minister Varadkar later today.

Minister Coveney has held his current position since May 2016; he served as the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine between 2011 and 2014. Following this he was the Minister for Defence between 2014 and 2016.

A number of politicians have chosen to back Coveney in this election process, including the Minister of Health, Simon Harris, and Dr. James Reilly, who has decided to step down from his position as deputy leader of the party.

Meanwhile, Minister Varadkar has received the backing of the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton.

Minister Varadkar, who represents the Dublin West constituency, has been a TD for the past decade; he has previously been the Minister of Health and the Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport.