Kenny rallies FG troops with new jobs for 23 TDs
IT'S Enda Kenny's 'jobs for the boys -- and girls'.
The Fine Gael leader yesterday announced his new team of deputy spokespeople, appointing 23 of his 51 TDs to junior posts.
It means that, on top of the 20 TDs already on the party's frontbench, only eight are without a title. Mr Kenny's spokesman said it was part of a "rolling process to rebuild the Fine Gael team" after Richard Bruton's failed leadership heave in June.
It also comes after a week of renewed speculation about Mr Kenny's position as party leader, following an opinion poll showing Fine Gael neck-and-neck with Fianna Fail on 24pc support, with Labour surging ahead on 33pc.
Some rebels suggested Mr Kenny would step aside in the interests of the party, but the Mayo TD has said he has no intention of doing so.
Of the eight TDs left out yesterday, three have Oireachtas committee or parliamentary party jobs; Seymour Crawford and Jim O'Keeffe told Mr Kenny they didn't want to be considered for a position; Laois-Offaly's Olwyn Enright is retiring at the next election and PJ Sheehan resigned as junior agriculture spokesman last month after allegedly making drunken threats to a garda.
Mr Kenny's spokesman said a similar number of junior spokespeople had been in place before the June heave and claimed longtime FG rebel John Deasy had been offered a position but turned it down.
However, sources close to Mr Deasy were last night surprised by this, and were unaware of any offer being made to the Waterford TD.
The so-called 'gang of nine' who led Richard Bruton's effort to be leader have all been brought back into the fold, except Ms Enright.
Olivia Mitchell, Michael Creed, Billy Timmins, Denis Naughten, and Brian Hayes have been appointed to junior positions, while other members of the group had already been re-appointed to the party's frontbench in the summer.
Outspoken Dublin South-East TD Lucinda Creighton, who said the argument for Turkish membership of the EU was "fundamentally flawed", in contradiction of official FG policy, has been moved from the European affairs brief to immigration, integration and equality.
"These appointments of deputy spokespersons and the allocations of special responsibilities today are another important step in the strengthening of Fine Gael's team in the Dail," Mr Kenny said.
"The colleagues appointed today will, working closely with our frontbench, deputies and Seanad spokespersons, have a key role in the completion and communication of Fine Gael's policy platform for the next general election.