"Connacht and the West is losing a Taoiseach": Third Fine Gael leadership debate gets underway

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney debate in Ballinasloe, Co Galway

"Connacht and the West is losing a Taoiseach": Third Fine Gael leadership debate gets underway

Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Candidates in the race to be Fine Gael's next leader are debating in Ballinsloe, Co Galway this evening.

Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney are at the hustings for party members in the West and North West.

They've already made pitches on why each of them would be best served for people in the area. Vardakar, once again assured the audience that he and Coveney will come together and "don the Fine Gael jersey".

Meanwhile, Coveney got off to a strong start:

"When Leo talks about being Taoiseach for the all of Ireland, my response to that is that's already me," the Minister for Housing remarked.

Varadkar took aim at Coveney's passion for the Marine portfolio, saying he would make Coveney the Minister for Marine and Natural Resources.

Coveney respinded: "I'll tell you what, I'll give you Health [portfolio] if you give me the Marine."

Varadkar previously served as Minister for Health from July 2014 to May 2016.

This evening, Fine Gael Mairead McGuinness officially endorsed Coveney.