Joan Burton: We want to chart a pathway to a better Ireland

Kenny holds first meeting with new Tánaiste on policy and reshuffle

Tánaiste Joan Burton: “I think we both want the Government to continue its mandate”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Tánaiste Joan Burton: “I think we both want the Government to continue its mandate”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Mon, Jul 7, 2014, 15:05

Tánaiste Joan Burton and Taoiseach Enda Kenny are holding a key meeting today on the future direction of the Coalition Government and the appointment of new ministers in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle.

Ms Burton has kept most of her day free for the meeting that got under way in Government Buildings this morning.

Ms Burton was last week elected as leader of the Labour party and Tánaiste, succeeding Eamon Gilmore. The impending Budget in October and the ministerial carve up are likely to top the agenda today.

“I’m going in firstly to talk to the Taoiseach. I think we both want the Government to continue its mandate,” she said on her way into the meeting.

“We want to chart a pathway to basically a better Ireland, ” Ms Burton said on her way into Government Buildings. She described this morning’s pre-Budget submission from employers’ group Ibec as “very promising”. The group said Minister for Finance Michael Noonan should introduce a net €200 million package of adjustments, just 10 per cent of the €2 billion figure that was at one stage the Government’s target. It also called for income tax relief for hard-pressed workers.

However, she added: “I think the job of us as leaders of our respective parties is to get that to work for everybody.”

Talks on the impending reshuffle are expected to take place later.

Mr Kenny said he was looking forward to discussing the Government’s agenda with Ms Burton. He would not be drawn on the impending reshuffle.

“I’ve seen all the wonderful speculation last few days. I’ve seen at least 10 different Cabinets outlined,” Mr Kenny said.

“What the people want is a Government that’s working in the interests of the country.”

On his way into Government Buildings he told Newstalk the Coalition had come a long way and would build on “foundations” already achieved.

“I’m really looking forward now to discussing that future agenda now with Tánaiste later on this morning.”

Speaking in Brussels this afternoon, Mr Noonan said The provision of extra social housing was likely to emerge as a key discussion point in the discussion between the Taoiseach and Tánaiste. “There’s some work going on at present on a refocusing or a nuancing of the programme for Government. I don’t expect that to be dramatic but there are issues that have come to the forefront like additional social housing [...]I expect those to be met in a slight change in direction in the Programme for Government.”