Saturday 25 October 2014

Is Coveney's time on the farm over?

Declan O'Brien

Published 09/07/2014 | 02:30

Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney

THERE is mounting speculation that Simon Coveney will be moved from the agriculture portfolio in this week's cabinet reshuffle.

Minister Coveney hinted at a possible move on two occasions recently, before going on national radio to insist he was happy to stay in agriculture.

However, if he is moved, the likely successor is Government chief whip Paul Kehoe. The Wexford deputy is viewed as having performed well in the role of party enforcer and to have earned promotion to a senior ministry.

Another outside possibility is the Meath TD Damien English. However, political insiders maintain he is unlikely to be promoted from the backbenches straight into cabinet.

While few details on the reshuffle have emerged yet, political insiders expect significant changes to be announced by Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the Fine Gael side of the coalition government. With Environment Minister Phil Hogan widely tipped to become Ireland's next EU commissioner, and persistent rumours regarding the future of Health Minister James Reilly, there is scope at cabinet for some fresh faces.

The election of Joan Burton as Labour Party leader has also increased pressure for cabinet change as Burton has indicated a major cull of ministers from her party's 'old guard' is likely.

While Ruairi Quinn pre-empted his demotion by resigning, it is expected that former leader Eamon Gilmore and Pat Rabbitte will face the chop.

Brendan Howlin's chances of survival are more favourable but he will also lose out if Burton decides on a clean sweep of her front bench in the wake of Labour's recent disastrous election performance.

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