‘It’s not easy’, says Taoiseach as he prepares to clear out junior ministers

At least four Ministers of State in jeopardy in the reshuffle

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton picturted after their first joint press conference outside government buildings last week. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton picturted after their first joint press conference outside government buildings last week. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Tue, Jul 15, 2014, 10:41

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has admitted he finds reshuffles difficult as he prepares to sack some junior ministers this afternoon.

He said he and Tánaiste Joan Burton wanted to “refresh” their team.

“It’s not an easy day I have to say.”

Speaking on his way into Government Buildings he said the new ministers of state would be announced after the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 12.30. Although the Cabinet is expected to sign off on the junior ministerial reshuffle today, the prospect of a delay until tomorrow morning had not been entirely ruled out last evening.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said the Taoiseach and Tánaiste were telling Ministers of State that they are being sacked ahead of today’s Cabinet meeting.

On his way into Government Buildings this morning, Mr Howlin explained why the weekly meeting was today taking place at 12.30pm instead of earlier.

“I understand the Cabinet has been pushed back from its normal slot so I presume that’s to give the leaders of both parties an opportunity to talk to members who are going to become Ministers of State and perhaps people who are going to move out of that job,” he said.

At least four Ministers of State are in jeopardy in the reorganisation of the lower tier of the Government.

Fine Gael Ministers of State John Perry (small business), Ciarán Cannon (training and skills) and Dinny McGinley (Gaeltacht) are the most exposed in the senior Coalition party while Labour Minister Joe Costello (trade and development) faces a struggle to hold on to his post.

Fine Gael TDs tipped for promotion include Darragh Murphy, Damien English, Dr Liam Twomey, Eoghan Murphy, Regina Doherty, Simon Harris, Mary Mitchell O’Connor. On the Labour side, TDs in contention include Ann Phelan, Kevin Humphreys, John Lyons and Michael McCarthy.

Of greatest interest politically is the junior finance ministry with responsibility for the Office of Public Works under Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, which was vacated by newly elected MEP Brian Hayes.

Dr Twomey is thought to be in contention for that job, which is the most high profile of all junior ministries.

However, he is based in Wexford alongside Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin and Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe. The allocation of three Government posts in a single constituency is considered unlikely.