Friday 30 September 2016

Kenny plans to shake up departments

Kevin Doyle and Niall O'Connor

Published 20/04/2016 | 02:30

It has been well-flagged that Mr Kenny has told Independent TDs he is prepared to appoint a Minister for Rural Affairs. Picture: Arthur Carron
It has been well-flagged that Mr Kenny has told Independent TDs he is prepared to appoint a Minister for Rural Affairs. Picture: Arthur Carron

Fine Gael is planning a significant shake-up of government departments if Enda Kenny is eventually re-elected Taoiseach.

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The Department of Environment is expected to be moved out of the historic Custom House in Dublin city centre to another location, to be replaced by a Department of Housing and Local Government.

The Irish Independent understands Environment will also be renamed to put an extra focus on climate change; the portfolio is likely to be offered to the Green Party if its two TDs agree to take part in a minority government.

It has been well-flagged that Mr Kenny has told Independent TDs he is prepared to appoint a Minister for Rural Affairs. However, his or her remit is likely to stretch well beyond rural issues to take in many of the responsibilities currently assigned to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

"It is likely that 'Rural Affairs' will include much of the work that is being done by Heather Humphreys, but there is a view its title could also include mention of the Gaeltacht and community," said a source.

The Irish Independent has also learnt the next government is likely to retain the Department of Public Expenditure as a separate entity to the Department of Finance. The Labour Party and Fine Gael took one financial department each in the previous administration, but it is likely two Fine Gael ministers will be appointed this time.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael TDs have reacted angrily to revelations that Mr Kenny wants to appoint an expert in housing to the Seanad and then make them a junior minister.

The proposal, revealed by this newspaper, has been the subject of private discussions by Fine Gael ministers and backbenchers. One minister told the Irish Independent the proposal had "gone down like a lead balloon".

Irish Independent

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