Noonan expects ‘significant’ reshuffle by Wednesday
First talks between Kenny and Burton come to an end without any major outcome being reached
A first day of talks between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and newly appointed Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton on the Cabinet reshuffle and their priorities in Coalition have come to a close.
The two met in private for some six hours in total and the meeting came to an end tonight without any major outcome being reached. Discussions are to resume in the morning.
Earlier, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said he expected the cabinet reshuffle to be completed by Wednesday and that it would be “reasonably significant”.
On his way into a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Brussels, Mr Noonan said he also expects the nomination of the Maire- Geoghegan Quinn’s successor as Ireland’s EU commissioner to be announced as part of the reshuffle.
“I’d expect we’ll have a new cabinet announced by Wednesday...I think the commissioner will be [announced ]in the context of whatever changes are made in Cabinet. I would expect that whoever’s nominated will be in that list.”
He said the scale of the reshuffle would be “reasonably significant” given that a number of vacancies have arisen both on the Labour and Fine Gael side, though he declined to comment on whether the next Commissioner should be a Fine Gael or Labour candidate.
“It’s a matter for the Taoiseach and Tánaiste,” he said.
Minister for Health James Reilly was asked about his prospects in the impending reshuffle today when he launched the final report of the strategic review of medical training and career structure.
“Everybody knows that my passion is health but equally...the Taosieach has to place people where he feels they’ll best serve and I respect that,” he said.
Asked if he had been calling Fine Gael backbenchers to canvass support ahead of the reshuffle, Dr Reilly said he regularly phoned and spoke to TDs. He said he saw it as his “duty” both as deputy leader of Fine Gael and as Minister for Health. Dr Reilly has been tipped for a move to transport and tourism.
It is now increasingly likely that Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan will become an EU commissioner and that another Fine Gael vacancy will arise from the dropping of Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan from Cabinet.
Following Ruairí Quinn’s resignation announcement last week, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore and Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte will also step down from Cabinet this week, leaving the new Labour party leader and Tánaiste, Joan Burton, with three vacancies to fill.
One position will go to the party’s new deputy leader Alan Kelly; that is likely to be the jobs and enterprise portfolio, if Labour succeeds in securing it. In return, the party will cede the foreign affairs portfolio. Defeated leadership candidate Alex White and his fellow Minister of State in Health, Kathleen Lynch, are the favourites for promotion.
Senior Labour sources were talking down suggestions that Senator Ivana Bacik may be made a minister on the basis that many party Dáil TDs had strong claims for promotion.
On the Fine Gael side, two Ministers of State, Paschal Donohoe and Paul Kehoe, have been tipped for promotion, with backbench TDs Regina Doherty and Dara Murphy also mentioned. Simon Coveney has been linked to foreign affairs, Leo Varadkar to environment, Richard Bruton to health and James Reilly to transport and tourism.