Thursday 30 March 2017

Cullen 'had planned to resign at the start of week'

Fionnan Sheahan, Sam Smyth and Aine Kerr

Tourism Minister Martin Cullen is understood to have wanted to meet Taoiseach Brian Cowen two days ago to resign from the Cabinet.

Mr Cullen was admitted to hospital yesterday for treatment on his ongoing back complaint. He missed the Cabinet meeting and will be in hospital for the rest of the week.

But Mr Cowen wasn't in Government Buildings on Monday as he was travelling in the Midlands and the West. Mr Cullen is now reported to have written his resignation letter to Mr Cowen.

A cabinet minister also told the Irish Independent yesterday Mr Cullen is on the brink of standing down after offering his resignation to Mr Cowen on health grounds.

Mr Cullen's resignation will be confirmed before the impending Cabinet reshuffle, whenever that might be. The Taoiseach is still weighing up his options on the changes to personnel and government departments.

Mr Cullen's drafting of a letter of resignation was reported yesterday in his local paper, the 'Waterford News and Star'. Mr Cowen yesterday refused to rule out a wide-ranging Cabinet reshuffle. He said he couldn't answer "any speculation" and had no comment to make after Labour leader Eamon Gilmore claimed he was planning an extensive Cabinet reshuffle and redrawing of Government departments.

Embattled Tanaiste and Enterprise Minister Mary Coughlan refused to be drawn on speculation that some of her responsibilities may be transferred to other departments.

"I don't think it's appropriate to use this occasion to discuss who is going to be a minister. That is a matter for the Taoiseach," Ms Coughlan said at the launch of the IDA's new Foreign Direct Investment strategy yesterday.

It has been suggested responsibility for job creation and management of the troubled employment agency FAS may taken from the Tanaiste who has been at the centre of a series of controversies, most recently with Ryanair over Hangar 6 at Dublin Airport.

Irish Independent

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