Kenny says no cabinet reshuffle as Reilly gets his support
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has put his cabinet ministers at ease by ruling out a reshuffle in 2013.
Mr Kenny also firmly backed crisis-ridden Health Minister James Reilly, expressing full confidence in the Fine Gael deputy leader.
Mr Kenny was suspected of pulling an old Charlie Haughey trick of threatening a reshuffle to keep ministers on their toes – with doubts in cabinet over whether there will be any changes before the local and European elections in 2014.
Fuelling the speculation, he said at Christmas that Ireland's EU presidency has provided a "reprieve" for the first six months for ministers.
But Mr Kenny has now ruled out any changes this year, saying ministers had enough work to be doing in the EU presidency and their own portfolios.
"No, there will be no reshuffle in 2013," he said.
The dismissal of a mid-term reshuffle means there are unlikely to be any changes until after the local and European elections in June 2014.
A reshuffle after that would leave new and switched-around ministers with just over 18 months to make their mark.
This September would mark the mid-point of the Fine Gael/Labour Party coalition's five-year term in office.
The Irish Independent reported on Saturday that some ministers believe there won't be a reshuffle for the next 18 months and Mr Kenny is simply using a device employed by Mr Haughey of pretending to be planning a reshuffle to prevent any complacency in the Government.
"He's keeping people on their toes. It's Haughey tactics. I'd be very surprised if there is a reshuffle this year," a minister said.
"I don't think there will be a reshuffle until 2014 after the local elections, say July 2014. Then you freshen the team."
Mr Kenny also said he believed Dr Reilly was doing a good job in Health.
He also said it was not just about Dr Reilly, and he was also working with Labour Party junior ministers Alex White and Kathleen Lynch.
"That trio are leading the structural changes that need to be made," he said.
"He has always had a genuine personal concern for putting patients first. This is a long and challenging role," he added.