DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Monday he is not ruling himself out of replacing Phil Hogan as the country's representative on the European Union executive following its trade chief's resignation last week.
Hogan quit as the EU's Trade Commissioner after pressure over allegations he breached COVID-19 guidelines during a trip to his native Ireland that also led to the resignation of an Irish minister and disciplining of other politicians.
EU executive chief Ursula von der Leyen said last Thursday that the Irish government should propose a man and a woman as potential successors and she would later determine the final allocation of tasks. Ireland may not retain the trade portfolio.
Dublin is keen for its nominee to hold onto the brief that oversees trade policy for the world's biggest trading bloc and Coveney is the highest profile potential candidate to signal an interest.
"I'm not ruling myself out but this is subject to a decision of the Taoiseach (prime minister) and (coalition) party leaders," Coveney, who was deputy prime minister until a change of government in June, told national broadcaster RTE.
"I would need to have a very good reason to move away from the focus that I have at the moment... And I would need to be convinced that I would add significant value to our chances of increasing our profile within the Commission."
Coveney, 48, is a former member of the European Parliament and played a key role on the EU side in negotiating last year's withdrawal agreement with Britain following the 2016 Brexit referendum.
European Parliament members Mairead McGuinness and Frances Fitzgerald have also put their names forward. Prime Minister Micheal Martin did not say last week if Ireland would adhere to Von der Leyen's wish for two nominees.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin, editing by Ed Osmond)