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Alan Kelly: Vote of confidence in Simon Coveney ‘not a priority'

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney
Dominic McGrath, PA

Labour leader Alan Kelly has said the vote of confidence in Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney is not a priority for his party.

The Fine Gael minister will face a confidence vote in the Dáil this week amid the fallout from the Katherine Zappone controversy.

Mr Kelly, who became leader of Labour during the pandemic, said his party will vote no confidence in Mr Coveney but stressed there are bigger issues politicians should be discussing.

Labour’s Ivana Bacik was forced to apologise earlier this summer for attending the controversial party hosted at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin hosted by Ms Zappone.

In an interview with RTÉ radio, Mr Kelly said his party does not support a decrease in the pension age and it should be kept at 66.

Describing Labour as the party that “represents workers”, he said: “We’re fairly honest with the people.

“Utopia that’s presented by some of those on the left doesn’t exist. We have to pay for things.”

Speaking as the party holds a “think-in” in Athy, Co Kildare, he said healthcare should be a priority for all political parties.

He said non-Covid-related healthcare is a “massive issue” and criticised the “lack of will” in government to make systematic changes to the Irish health service.

Mr Kelly was speaking as the government’s Sláintecare project has been hit by two high-profile resignations that have sparked concern about the drive to introduce universal healthcare.

“This is something we have no choice but to implement. I don’t believe people will tolerate a two-tier health system into the future,” he said.

He added that there was an “ideological” issue within the government on the issue.

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