Wednesday 20 September 2017

Kenny could use Perry travails to reshuffle roles

Junior ministers are under scrutiny as pressure mounts on Taoiseach to promote more women

John Drennan

John Drennan

SPECULATION is growing within Fine Gael that Taoiseach Enda Kenny may use the travails of his embattled Junior Minister John Perry to engage in a mini-reshuffle of his junior ministers in the autumn.

Mr Kenny has repeatedly ruled out any cabinet reshuffle of his "senior ministerial'' team until 2014.

However, a number of Fine Gael sources said that, even prior to last week's revelations, they believed Mr Kenny was planning to reshuffle a less-than-illustrious set of junior ministers in the autumn.

"It would be a typical Enda stroke, do something harmless, but dramatic, create the appearance of reform and then wag his fingers at the seniors and say 'you lot are next'," one party source told the Sunday Independent.

Mr Kenny is understood to be content with the performance of his senior Cabinet. But sources said he had been privately scathing of the capacities of a number of his junior ministers for some time.

Even before the revelations about Mr Perry, it was claimed that Mr Kenny had been making "discreet inquiries" about his performance.

Mr Kenny is also understood to be looking at the age profile of some of his older junior ministers – and deliberating if they are going to contest the next general election.

Gaeltacht Minister Dinny McGinley is 68 and there has been widespread rumours that he does not intend to run again.

A number of government backbench TDs have emerged as front-runners if any vacancies arise.

These include Joe McHugh, who is based in the crucial five-seat constituency of Donegal. Roscommon TD Frank Feighan is another strong contender if Mr Perry resigns.

Mr Kenny is also coming under growing pressure to promote more women to the junior ministerial ranks.

These include Cork TD Aine Collins, who recently found herself at the centre of the 'Lapgate' controversy.

"Regina Doherty or Aine Collins will have to be considered. Don't forget, Aine shares the same constituency as Enda's enemy Michael Creed," a government TD said.

Sunday Independent

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