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Local Fine Gael members split on leadership choice

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Ardee Municipal District councillor Dolores Minogue. Photo Credit: Adrian Crawley.
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This article originally appeared on ThisIsArdee.ie

Ardee Municipal District cathaoirleach Dolores Minogue has lent her support to Leo Varadkar’s bid to become leader of Fine Gael as news emerges this afternoon that his rival Simon Coveney may be considering dropping out of the race.

Minister for Social Protection Varadkar has built up a seemingly unassailable lead in the race to replace outgoing party leader and Taoiseach Enda Kenny. On Saturday afternoon, Coveney cancelled a planned media event at his constituency office in Cork at 2pm, rescheduling it for 8pm. A spokesperson said he would spend the day talking to councillors and TDs.

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On Friday evening, Minogue followed Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd in announcing her support for Varadkar. She wrote on Facebook, “So after a visit and a long chat from both Simon and Leo, I have decided to support Leo”. Minogue is close with Drogheda based TD Fergus O’Dowd and on Friday morning, he declared his support for the former Minister of Health.

“I would like to confirm that I will be supporting Leo Varadkar TD in the upcoming Fine Gael leadership contest,” he said in a statement. I made this decision some time ago and I’m confident that Leo Varadkar is the right person who can lead Fine Gael and Ireland into the next generation of politics.

Leo is a person whom I hold in the highest regard, I believe he has the experience, skill and integrity to provide the leadership our country needs and deserves. I look forward to the next fortnight that I hope will reinvigorate the Fine Gael party and it’s members. This is a massive opportunity for us to capture the hearts and minds of the younger generation who have become disenfranchised by the last decade of politics,” O’Dowd continued.

Also on Friday, Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick confirmed he was backing the Minister for Housing. This comes despite Varadkar compiling several notable and high profile supporters since announcing his candidacy, including Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Coveney has said that he will not withdraw from the race – despite reports in the national media suggesting politicians close to him believe he should withdraw.

Minogue’s fellow Ardee Municipal District councillor Colm Markey, who acted as campaign manager of Peter Fitzpatrick’s re-election bid last year,  has yet to officially declare a preference. As of yet, Coveney has no definite votes of support from Louth County Council councillors. Varadkar currently holds a 44% to 20% lead.

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