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SIMON COVENEY HAS announced that he will not be contesting the next general election and is “stepping out of politics”.

The Fine Gael TD made the announcement in a lengthy statement shared on X.

The 52-year-old Cork South Central TD was first elected to the Dáil in a by-election in 1998.

He had served as minister for agriculture and minister for foreign affairs and most recently as minister for enterprise.

When Simon Harris was appointed Taoiseach earlier this year, Mr Coveney announced that he did not want to continue in the Cabinet in order to allow the new Fine Gael leader pick new ministers.

He said that now is the right time “for renewal in Fine Gael and for me to change direction”.

“All my political career I have tried to do what’s right for Cork, for the county that I love and for our party that I’ve given my life to since the age of 25,” he said.

“However, I have come to the view some time ago that it’s time for me to step out of politics at the next election, after the extraordinary privilege of serving this constituency for 26 years.