herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Olympian Coghlan joins FG in major coup for Taoiseach

FORMER Olympian Eamonn Coghlan has joined Fine Gael.

The senator confirmed to the Herald that he has reached an agreement after talks with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Mr Kenny appointed the Drimnagh native to the Seanad last May but he had remained an independent senator. However, a representative for Mr Coghlan told the Herald today that he has now decided to "get into Government because that is where things are done".

The decision will be seen as a major coup for Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a time when his coalition partners in Labour are struggling to keep all their backbenchers on board. It is understood that Mr Coghlan had been in discussions with senior Fine Gael people for some time but had consistently resisted approaches to join the party.

"Traditionally he would have always had a Fine Gael mindset," explained a close source. "It was really over Christmas that he sat down, thought about it and decided to make the move. He wanted some time in the job to see how everything works before agreeing to Fine Gael."

Fitness

A spokeswoman for Mr Coghlan noted that by entering Government it will help him pursue his major political goal of making physical fitness for children and young people a core part of the school curriculum.

In November, the three-time Olympian, proposed a motion before the Oireachtas which recognised that effective health awareness and physical fitness programme in both primary and secondary schools was "essential for the overall well-being of children".

He argued that a physical education curriculum, in place at primary school level since 1999, was not being implemented in full in 65pc of schools.

His plan is not about sports participation, but about learning, participating and understanding the value of fitness for life and "more important, gaining points for life as opposed to gaining points for college".

"From my own experience, improving one's physical fitness is not rocket science. It just requires a little common sense and discipline. It also requires the utilisation of existing structures and not large budgets. It needs bundles of determination, not cash," he said at the time.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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