Bruton signals interest in economics portfolio in potential reshuffle

Minister for Education backing ‘reforming, decisive, imaginative’ Varadkar as leader

Minister for Education Richard Bruton. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Minister for Education Richard Bruton has signalled that he would be interested in taking on an economics portfolio if there is a Cabinet reshuffle following the election of a new taoiseach.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Mr Bruton said that while he has not expressed a desire to change from his current role, he emphasised the economic experience he has gained in key ministries.

Mr Bruton, who was one of the first Ministers to publicly back Leo Varadkar, previously served in enterprise and jobs and as Fine Gael's finance spokesman in Opposition.

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When asked if he wished to remain in his education portfolio, Mr Bruton said: “I haven’t expressed any preference. I am continuing to do my job. I will do that right up until the taoiseach of the day says otherwise. Clearly, I have economic experience across a range of ministries, and indeed in Opposition.


“I think I have skills that remain very relevant and I would be open to serve in any way that a future taoiseach would ask me to do so.”

Minister for finance?

When asked if he wished to serve as minister for finance, he said: “I am not expressing any view. Essentially, I have played a role in a very large number of spokesmanships. I come with a set of economic strengths, I suppose, and I am happy to deploy those in any areas.

“I am seeking to deploy them in education at present. I am not going to seek to put pressure or otherwise on any prospective taoiseach as to whether they should include me. Or, if they do include me, what role they should decide on.”

Mr Bruton said he chose to support Mr Varadkar in the leadership race as he was best-placed to respond to the changing needs of the country.

"I think Ireland is changing . . . We need a leader that responds best to those changes. I believe my decision to support Leo is the correct one. I think he has the capacity to respond effectively.

“He is reforming, he is decisive, he is imaginative. And, most of all, I think he is able to relate to people’s view of the world who perhaps have become disillusioned with politics. And he has the capacity to reach out to those people.”

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent