Kenny poised to reshuffle Cabinet next year
Taoiseach’s comments seen as warning to Ministers and TDs to stay on their toes through difficult Budget talks
The nomination of Ireland’s new EU Commissioner next year is being read in Government circles as an obvious time for Taoiseach Enda Kenny to reshuffle the Cabinet.
Within the Cabinet itself, Mr Kenny’s signal yesterday of a reshuffle before Coalition’s term is out was promptly seen as an implicit warning to Ministers and TDs to stay on their toes through difficult Budget talks and the exit from the bailout.
No decision has been made as to whether the reshuffle will be carried out before or after the local and European elections next May, it is understood.
It is further understood that Mr Kenny’s intention at this point is to adopt a “minimalist” approach to any changes on the Fine Gael flank of the Cabinet.
But with a new Irish commissioner to be installed next autumn when Máire Geoghegan-Quinn leaves office, the nomination of a sitting Minister for the Brussels post would provide an opportunity for Mr Kenny to reshape the Cabinet.
Having declared at the Fine Gael think-in in Co Laois that he hopes that the Coalition will run its full course until the spring of 2016, Mr Kenny said Ministers and Ministers of State knew it was “normal” to have a reshuffle in the term of a Government. “A reshuffle of the Cabinet will take place in the back half of the lifetime of the Government. There will be no reshuffle this year,” Mr Kenny said yesterday.
“Everybody [is] working very hard. Everybody [is] diligent at their job,” he said in reference to the Cabinet. “I have a very good relationship with them all but everybody understands that sometimes you make some changes.”
The Taoiseach said he has yet to discuss a reshuffle in any detail with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, saying they will speak about it “in due course”.
At the Labour think-in in Co Meath, Mr Gilmore said while he expected a reshuffle within the Coalition’s term, it was not on the immediate agenda.
“It’s not something that is immediately on the horizon but it is something that will be addressed at some point in the life of the Government,” he said.
Mr Gilmore said it had seldom been the case that a Government finished its term with the same 15 ministers in Cabinet or in the same positions.
Asked if he hoped to move from foreign affairs into an economic portfolio, the Tánaiste replied that his work was very much contributing to the State’s recovery.
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said her fate was not in her hands.
“Matters in relation to the membership and composition of the Cabinet are uniquely an issue for the leaders of the two parties, for the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan yesterday hinted at a possible extension of Nama’s work beyond the 2020 deadline at which its mandate is due to expire.
“Nama will come to an end. There’s no change in the objective that it would end in 2020,” Mr Noonan said during a press conference at the Fine Gael think-in.
“But we’re looking at options there, but it’s a long way down the line.”