Kenny in hot pursuit of short-term policy goals
Taoiseach sets Cabinet task of potential achievements in first 100 days and year one
Enda Kenny: Areas already identified by the Taoiseach include the preparation of a plan for housing in the first 100 days. Photograph: The Irish Times
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has asked his senior Ministers to outline a range of measures that can be completed within one year, with recognition in Government that the lifespan of the Fine Gael-Independent administration may be short.
Mr Kenny has asked Cabinet Ministers to give him presentations on what they believe they can achieve within both the first 100 days and the first year of office.
Sources said Mr Kenny’s move has been informed by an acknowledgment that the lifespan of minority governments is generally shorter than the five-year terms that have characterised Irish governments over the past 20 years.
Mr Kenny’s spokesman said he will be undertaking a series of bilateral meetings with Ministers in the days ahead, and that the Taoiseach had already outlined a number of areas he wants tackled as the new Government takes office.
The minority Government deal agreed between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil commits Micheál Martin’s party to supporting three budgets, which would see it through to late 2018 at the earliest, but there is a fear among some in Fine Gael that it may fall sooner.
“It’s anyone’s guess,” said one senior party figure of how long the Government could last. “I don’t think anyone wants an election this year so if it falls this year it’ll be an accident rather than a strategy.”
A Fine Gael Minister said it is important to set out what can be done in a shorter timeframe.
“We have to do as much as we can in a limited amount of time,” the Minister said. “We have to set priorities. But there is a settling-down period, there are a lot of people in jobs they never had any experience of.”
Summer returnAn Independent Minister predicted, however, that the Government would bed down when it returns after the summer recess.
It is currently planned that Mr Kenny will only meet with senior Ministers but sources said the meetings could be extended to Ministers of State as well.
The areas already identified by the Taoiseach included the preparation of an action plan for housing in the first 100 days, outlining a reformed budgetary process, establishing a taskforce on mobile coverage and broadband coverage for rural areas, reactivating the National Treatment Purchase Fund to reduce waiting lists and the preparation of a new winter accident and emergency plan.
Another such measure to be dealt with within the first 100 days is engaging with the education sector on after-school childcare arrangements, which was flagged by Minister for Education Richard Bruton earlier this week.