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Monday 22 September 2014

Blow to Gilmore's hopes for new role as Kenny rules out reshuffle

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Published 08/04/2013 | 06:24

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Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is standing firm on his commitment that there won't be a cabinet reshuffle this year, despite Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore's personal need to get out of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

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However, discussions on changes in ministerial positions will form part of Labour's post-mortem on its disastrous result in the recent by-election.

Mr Gilmore is again abroad this week as his party continues to reel from the disastrous result in Meath East and his leadership comes under the spotlight.

The Tanaiste's role as Foreign Affairs Minister is coming under increasing scrutiny, with growing speculation that he is planning a change of portfolio to get him into a more central role -- preferably with a strong economic element.

Senior Labour sources said talk of changes at this point is only speculation, but matters around positions, policies and the Programme for Government will all be considered as the party takes stock of its position. But nothing has been decided about future courses of action at this stage.

"There will be discussions, and decisions will be made later," a source said.

However, Mr Kenny is continuing to rule out a cabinet reshuffle, which includes any changes for Labour ministers.

Mr Kenny's spokesman said there was no change on his view earlier this year of no reshuffle being planned.

"The Taoiseach's position is as it was set out in January. Our focus is on implementation of the Programme for Government and continued economic recovery by building on clear signs of progress that have been achieved," the spokesman said.

Mr Gilmore was forced to deny there was any doubt over his leadership of the Labour Party after rebel TD Tommy Broughan said on RTE's 'The Week in Politics': "I think his leadership has come into focus with the disaster in Meath East."

Speaking in Istanbul, where he is on a trade mission, Mr Gilmore hit back pointedly, saying some people in Labour were "more comfortable in opposition".

Mr Gilmore's remark was viewed as a dig at the growing number of party representatives resigning from the Labour parliamentary party.

Mr Gilmore dismissed the question marks over his leadership, saying he was concentrating on the difficulties facing the economy "to ensure our country and our people have a future".

Labour has now lost seven national elected representatives since entering Government -- five TDs, one senator and one MEP, Nessa Childers, who was the latest resignation. She follows TDs Willie Penrose, Tommy Broughan, Patrick Nulty, Roisin Shortall, Colm Keaveney and Senator James Heffernan in giving up the party whip.

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