Greens demand four ministers in reshuffle
Cowen and Gormley in last-ditch weekend talks
Published 20/03/2010 | 05:00
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen and John Gormley were at loggerheads over the impending reshuffle last night with the Green Party leader now demanding four ministerial positions.
Mr Cowen is widely expected to reshuffle his Cabinet next Tuesday and negotiations between him and Mr Gormley picked up again yesterday after the Taoiseach returned from his St Patrick's Day visit to the United States.
Both men spoke twice yesterday, with Mr Gormley digging his heels in and demanding that the Greens be given two junior ministerial positions from the 15 available to the Taoiseach.
The Greens already expect to hold on to their two main ministerial positions.
It is understood Mr Gormley has also informed Mr Cowen that he will not settle for one "super junior" position instead of two junior portfolios.
But sources would not disclose what action the Greens would take if Mr Cowen did not grant their wish.
The Greens have settled their issue over rotating cabinet ministers and Mr Gormley is likely to stay in his position as Environment Minister with Eamon Ryan set to continue as Communications Minister.
Carlow TD Mary White, who is also deputy leader of the party, and Dun Laoghaire TD Ciaran Cuffe are dead certs for the junior posts if the Greens manage to pull off a coup that would enrage the Fianna Fail backbenches.
The Greens are dismissing suggestions that they be given two full cabinet positions and a "super-junior" with a seat at the cabinet table but no cabinet vote. Sources say they are not interested in that and want two junior posts.
The date for the reshuffle is almost certainly next Tuesday and coalition sources were last night predicting a fraught weekend of negotiations, with wrangling likely to continue until Monday night.
The two party leaders are expected to speak on a number of occasions over the weekend and negotiations will also continue at other high levels, following on from similar talks over the last few days.
But the Greens are anxious to go to their party convention in Waterford next weekend with something to show from the negotiations.
They are insisting the deal they struck with Bertie Ahern in 2007, when they were promised two full ministerial posts, a junior minister and another junior minister half-way through the coalition's term in office, is honoured.
At the time, Mr Ahern increased the number of junior ministers from 17 to 20 but Green sources say they were not consulted on this.