Quinn says he is not ready for the chop as Minister for Education

Quinn says he wants to complete full term and intends to contest the next election

Minister for Education  Ruairi Quinn at a press conference in  Dublin last week. Photograph: Collins

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn at a press conference in Dublin last week. Photograph: Collins


Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has indicated he will resist attempts to demote him in the Cabinet reshuffle expected after the local elections in late May.

Mr Quinn said he wants to continue in his current role until the Government’s term of office expires in the Spring of 2016.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today programme this morning, Mr Quinn, 68 this year, said he was determined to see the term out.

“I want to finish this job. I want to go the whole way,” he said.

The Dublin South East Deputy is considered the one most likely to make way when Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore decides on putting fresh faces among the party’s five senior Cabinet Ministers in the summer.

Asked about reports that suggested he was for the “chop”, Mr Quinn responded: “I am not ready for the chop at all. I have a big agenda. I have a lot of energy. I want to complete this project.”

He said he had never expected to get the education portfolio.

“When Eamon Gilmore asked me when we were in opposition to take it on I was quite surprised because I had other experiences. I find it a fascinating job. I think I’ve brought a sense of energy and reform”, he said.

Mr Quinn, also said he intended to contest the next general election, despite turning 70 in 2016: “That’s my intention, if I have the health and the ambition and the energy to do it, which I currently have. Of course I will yes,” he said.

At the time of the formation of Government in March 2011, there were persistent suggestions that Mr Quinn was not in Mr Gilmore’s original line-up of senior Ministers but had argued successfully to the Labour Party leader that he should be amongst the five Labour ministers. It was widely believed at the time that the party’s health spokeswoman Róisín Shortall had lost out.

Neither Taoiseach Enda Kenny nor Mr Gilmore are believed to be inclined to effect major reshuffles in their Ministerial ranks. Minister of the Environment Phil Hogan is seen as almost certain to become the next European Commissioner. It is unlikely Mr Kenny will demote any of the current Ministers with a rural TD likely to become the next Minister, to correct a strong bias towards Dublin-based deputies. There is a strong chance also that the junior ministerial vacancy that will arise will be filled by a woman, to address a distinct gender imbalance among Fine Gael ministers. Only one of its senior and junior ministers is female.

On the Labour side, the strongest contenders for promotion are said by Labour Party sources as the two junior ministers in health, Alex White and Kathleen Lynch.