We are in the final stages of the Fine Gael leadership contest, with many of the 20,000 rank-and-file members of the party having already voted. In a couple of days time, we will know who has prevailed, and who will possibly become the next Taoiseach: Simon Coveney or Leo Varadkar.
On the Today programme, speaking to Sean O’Rourke, Simon Coveney once again put his case forward, and the recent pattern of, shall we say, robust commentary on his rival’s campaign continued unabated. Here’s a sample of an exchange between the presenter and Mr Coveney.
Sean O’Rourke: “This morning in the Irish Times, you and Leo are interviewed. He is asked to comment on your policies. He said, I can’t really comment on Simon’s policies, I haven’t seen any from him.”
Simon Coveney. “That’s Leo being smart-assed. I have proposed six or seven big ideas. What Leo has done is published effectively an election manifesto.”
The forum hustings, where both candidates put their respective cases to their party membership, were widely watched on social media, with exchanges between the two becoming progressively more acerbic. The last contest, held in court, was particularly robust.
How will the candidates shake hands and build bridges after these exchanges of blows and when the final result comes in? So wondered Sean O’Rourke, pointing to Leo Varadkar’s description of Simon’s campaign as “divisive, dishonest and not a good way to seek a mandate.”
“That was the fourth of four debates. All of the independent analysis was that I won the first three. So I wasn’t surprised that Leo came out fighting.”
Today is the final day for members to cast their votes. On Friday morning, members of the Parliamentary party, who make up 65% of the electoral college, will start to vote, with some in Mr Coveney’s camp confident that several who have already declared for their opponent will switch sides. That’s the beauty of a secret ballot, commented Simon Coveney.
To listen to his full interview with Sean O’Rourke, click here.
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