Tuesday 26 September 2017

'Cabinet deal' for Harris infuriates FG's old guard

Simon Harris, TD. Photo: Tom Burke
Simon Harris, TD. Photo: Tom Burke
John Drennan

John Drennan

SENIOR Fine Gael back-benchers have reacted furiously to claims that Simon Harris, the party's MEP candidate in the South constituency, has secured a 'deal' with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The deal is believed to include the promise of a junior ministry in the forthcoming Cabinet reshuffle if he fails to win a seat and a junior ministry for his Fine Gael colleague Andrew Doyle should Harris secure a seat.

Though most attention will be focused on the senior ministerial posts, as former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern found to his cost when he decided not to promote Sean Haughey, often the internal fall-out over junior ministerial positions can be even more toxic.

Ironically, the claim first surfaced two months earlier in the Wicklow Times in an article in which Harris outlined his preference to remain as a TD for Wicklow.

Though Simon Harris strenuously denies the existence of any deal, the circulation of the article amongst the Fine Gael TD's colleagues last week was the catalyst for a furious reaction. Those who are not elevated in Enda Kenny's autumn reshuffle will have lost all hope of preferment during the current Dail.

In an indication of the tensions that will surround any proposed reshuffle, senior Fine Gael sources were scathing about the alleged offer. Senior TDs noted that "this is the last thing we need after the various Shatter controversies, this looks like old-style FF 'jobs for the boys' stuff''.

Evidence of a growing generational divide was also present in the claims that "there will be real anger if people who served during the hard times, people like Charlie Flanagan and Michael Creed who flew the flag when some of the new breed were in creches, are overlooked''.

One minister warned that "many TDs are annoyed with the young breed of Fine Gael pets who are sent out to all of the soft media opportunities''.

Sunday Independent

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