John Perry fights to hold Minister of State position

Cabinet decision expected tomorrow likely to result in another Minister of State portfolio

Minister of State for Small Business John Perry. He survived a political onslaught last year after a Commercial Court judgment against him over a €2.47 million debt to Danske Bank. He eventually struck a deal with the bank to restructure the debt. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister of State for Small Business John Perry. He survived a political onslaught last year after a Commercial Court judgment against him over a €2.47 million debt to Danske Bank. He eventually struck a deal with the bank to restructure the debt. Photograph: Alan Betson

Mon, Jul 14, 2014, 01:00

Minister of State for Small Business John Perry will be fighting to hold on to his job as the Cabinet prepares to reshuffle the Minister of State ranks and reallocate responsibilities within them.

The Cabinet decision, expected tomorrow, is likely to result in the creation of another Minister of State portfolio with responsibility for rural affairs. This reflects concern within Government that the benefit of nascent economic recovery should extend beyond urban areas.

A big question to be settled centres on who takes the Minister of State post in the Department of Finance now that Brian Hayes is an MEP. And who succeeds Minister for Transport Paschael Donohoe as Minister of State for Europe.

Mr Perry survived a political onslaught last year after a Commercial Court judgment against him over a €2.47 million debt to Danske Bank. He eventually struck a deal with the bank to restructure the debt.

The Sligo Fine Gael TD kept his job, although many in Government circles had questioned his command of the small business portfolio.

Now the question is whether he can retain a ministry.

Ged Nash as ‘super junior’

The Minister of State reshuffle follows the appointment of Labour TD Ged Nash as “super junior” Minister in the Department of Jobs with responsibility for business and employment.

This all but guarantees change elsewhere in the department, where Mr Perry is one of two existing Ministers of State serving under Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton. The other post is held by Labour TD Seán Sherlock, almost certain to be moved to another ministry.

In the frame for possible promotion from the Fine Gael backbenches are Cork TD Darragh Murphy, Meath TDs Damien English and Regina Doherty and Wicklow TD Simon Harris. Other possibilities include Dublin TDs Eoghan Murphy and Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

Possibilities for promotion Labour Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch is likely to retain her portfolio, with additional responsibility for primary care. A further vacancy arises after Alex White’s promotion to Cabinet.

Possibilities for promotion from the Labour backbenches include Cork TD Michael McCarthy, unsuccessful contender for deputy leader. Other names mentioned include Kerry TD Arthur Spring.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Joan Burton yesterday told RTÉ that political responsibility for Irish Water will be transferred into the NewEra, NTMA and Department of Finance structure from Environment

Ms Burton denied that Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin had to be called into Cabinet reshuffle discussions last week because of a dispute over social investment policy.

She said the two Ministers were always going to be called into the conversations on taxation ahead of agreement on investment in social housing and tax reform to target low- and middle-income families.