Reshuffle looms: Leo Varadkar wants general election commitment from Fine Gael ministers

Chances of creating new ‘super-junior’ roles recede over fear of resultant optics

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has told Fine Gael politicians that he will be seeking commitments from those he appoints as ministers that they will run in the next general election.

A reshuffle of Ministers will take place this weekend when Mr Varadkar returns to the Taoiseach’s office, but there is limited scope for major changes to senior ministerial roles and most moves are expected to take place in the junior ranks.

The Irish Times understands that the prospect of extra “super-junior” ministers being added is receding amid a fear in Government that politicians creating jobs for themselves would become the story of the reshuffle.

Mr Varadkar told a private meeting of his party that he will be giving the reshuffle “a lot of thought” in the coming days.


He said Fine Gael Ministers were performing very well and the current parliamentary party is “the most talented he has been part of”.

He said that as a result the decisions he will have to make are very difficult, but he will endeavour to make sure there is a meaningful role for all.

Mr Varadkar is also understood to have suggested that the reshuffle will be boring, but this might not be a bad thing.

If any ministers or committee chairs do confirm they are not running at the next election it will give Mr Varadkar more options in the reshuffle - either to promote backbenchers to ministerial office, or offer a consolation role chairing a committee.

TDs were told Mr Varadkar will be asking anyone holding an “officership” to confirm they are running in the next general election.

It is understood that officership refers to Ministers and committee chairpersons – another role that comes with an extra salary allowance.

The Coalition leaders are not due to discuss their final plans for the reshuffle until Taoiseach Micheál Martin returns to Ireland from the European Council summit on Friday.

Much will depend on which Government department Mr Martin chooses to take on, with Foreign Affairs viewed as his most likely destination.

This would mean the current Minister, Simon Coveney, would move elsewhere.

Mr Coveney assuming the Department of Enterprise portfolio – which will be vacated by Mr Varadkar when he returns to the role of taoiseach – is seen as a likely move that would follow.

Some of the job allocations are known. Green Party Ministers Eamon Ryan, Catherine Martin and Roderic O’Gorman are expected to stay in their current roles as Ministers for the Environment and Transport, Tourism and Culture, and Children and Integration respectively.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath will switch roles, while Darragh O’Brien is to remain Minister for Housing.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times