Paschal Donohoe rules out future leadership bid

By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
Irish Examiner Political Correspondent

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has ruled out ever replacing Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach or Fine Gael leader.

Mr Donohoe made the eye-catching claim despite being repeatedly name-checked as a potential successor to Mr Varadkar should he leave office.

Speaking during an interview with wire agency Bloomberg during a visit to the company's London headquarters, Mr Donohoe said he has no interest in the post "nor in the future".

“It is a short and simple question that actually does have a short and simple answer. Which is: we have a Taoiseach and I have a job.

"The only focus I have is in continuing to do this job. When we got to this point before I said I don’t have an interest in being Fine Gael leader," Mr Donohoe said.

The Finance Minister's admission would appear to rule him out of any future leadership bid, which may be driven if Fine Gael falls from power after the next general election.

It is believed while Mr Donohoe privately considered running for the 2017 leadership when Enda Kenny stood down after repeated demands for a new leader from his own backbenches, he chose not to do so as he has a young family.

While Mr Varadkar is currently in a strong position as Fine Gael leader, other potential future contenders include Health Minister Simon Harris and Tanaiste Simon Coveney.

While Mr Harris is almost a decade younger than his counterparts and has been damaged by the children's hospital costs crisis, he gained significant credibility during the eighth amendment referendum and was rumoured to have also considered a leadership tilt in 2017 before ruling it out.

Similarly, while Mr Coveney's leadership ambitions have been dented by his failure to beat Mr Varadkar in 2017 and his inability to resolve the homelessness crisis while housing minister, his steady diplomatic hand as foreign affairs minister throughout the Brexit crisis has not gone unnoticed.

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