Frances Fitzgerald tipped to become next tánaiste

Enda Kenny expected to remain as taoiseach until 2017 if minority government is formed

Fine Gael party members Frances Fitzgerald, Leo Varadkar, Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe in Trinity College Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Fine Gael party members Frances Fitzgerald, Leo Varadkar, Michael Noonan and Paschal Donohoe in Trinity College Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald is favourite to be appointed tánaiste by Enda Kenny if a Fine Gael-led minority government is put in place.

Ms Fitzgerald is also expected to be appointed Fine Gael deputy leader, a post vacant since its holder James Reilly lost his seat in the general election. She is also likely to retain the justice portfolio.

“Frances will be Kenny’s number two on the basis of gender, geography, experience and ability,’’ said a senior Fine Gael source.

There is a growing consensus within Fine Gael that the acting Taoiseach will stay on until next year if he is re-elected to the post.

Party sources said his skills as chairman of a cabinet would be needed to settle a minority government into office in a volatile political climate.

“I think he would probably go some time in 2017, all going well,’’ said a party source.

“This would give a new leader time to settle in for the next general election which, let’s face it, could occur any time.’’

Party sources said Mr Kenny would stand down having made history as the first Fine Gael taoiseach to win a consecutive term and having rebuilt the party after its rout in 2002.

Independents are expected to get three Cabinet positions and three junior ministries.

This would leave Mr Kenny with 23 ministries, 11 senior and 12 junior, to allocate among his 50 TDs.

Some of those among the disappointed could expect to be allocated other perks, such as chairing an Oireachtas committee, which is within the gift of a taoiseach.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is expected to retain his portfolio, Minister of State Simon Harris is regarded a favourite for promotion, potentially taking over the public expenditure portfolio.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan is thought likely to stay in Iveagh House.

Others likely to retain their portfolios are Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton may move to education and be replaced by the current Minister for Transport, Paschal Donohoe.

Promotion

Among the backbenchers tipped for promotion are Fergus O’Dowd, from Louth; Pat Breen, from Clare; and Cork East’s David Stanton.

Others include Dún Laoghaire’s Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Offaly’s Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Kerry’s Brendan Griffin, Dublin Bay South’s Eoghan Murphy, Meath East’s Regina Doherty, Carlow-Kilkenny’s John Paul Phelan and Cork South West’s Jim Daly.

Among the Independent’s being linked with a ministerial job are Dublin Bay North’s Finian McGrath, possibly as a “super junior” which would allow him attend cabinet, and Dublin South-West Independent TD Katherine Zappone.