Varadkar to announce several Cabinet changes

Jostling for position begins as Coveney expected to become next tánaiste

Fine Gael TDs and Ministers have begun jostling for positions under leader Leo Varadkar as he prepares to announce a number of changes to the Cabinet.

Mr Varadkar is expected to restrict immediate radical reform but is assessing appointing one minister to oversee both the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure .

Mr Varadkar is understood to be willing to offer Minister for Housing Simon Coveney his choice of portfolio and appoint him as tánaiste.

Sources close to Frances Fitzgerald say she is expecting to be moved from the Department of Justice but is hopeful she will remain as Tánaiste.


Mr Coveney and Minister for Education Richard Bruton have been linked to replacing Ms Fitzgerald in justice.

Mr Bruton has stressed to colleagues he would prefer an economic portfolio if moved from his current role.

Mr Varadkar is expected to drop a number of people from Cabinet to allow for Minister of State at the Department of Finance Eoghan Murphy, chief whip Regina Doherty, and Fine Gael TD John Paul Phelan to be promoted. Minister of State at the Department of Health Helen McEntee is also in line for a new role.

Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, Minister for Jobs Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan are at risk of demotion. Mr Murphy has been linked to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

It is not expected Mr Harris will be removed from his role as it is understood Mr Coveney will seek his retention.

Advisors to Mr Varadkar have urged him to ensure no first-time TD is promoted ahead of others. This will be a blow to Dublin Rathdown TD Josepha Madigan and Dublin North West TD Noel Rock who were involved in Mr Varadkar's campaign. Mr Varadkar initiated early contacts with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and the Independent Ministers ahead of discussions this week.

It is expected formal negotiations will begin later in the week with a number of new requests for positions to be made by both.

Both the Independent Ministers and Fianna Fáil believe an early election is likely under Mr Varadkar’s tenure. The two sides have stressed they are committed to the agreements already in place but expect Mr Varadkar will facilitate an election if successive polls show improvement for Fine Gael.