TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has fired a warning shot to ministers that he plans to bring fresh blood into the Government in a reshuffle after the local and European elections.
Mr Kenny said the coalition parties had "outstanding talent" on the backbenches.
"I certainly would like to see that people who work very hard and who show real ability should be given the chance to demonstrate that," he said.
Mr Kenny has also declined to dismiss the speculation linking Environment Minister Phil Hogan with the post of Ireland's European Commissioner.
Neither did he specifically say he would demote ministers at cabinet level, rather than just dropping junior ministers. But he did clearly say some backbenchers will get an opportunity in the ministerial ranks.
Rather than a reshuffle early in the new year, Mr Kenny has given his clearest indication yet that the rejig will take place in the late summer or autumn.
"Well that will take place sometime in 2014. I haven't considered it yet," he said.
"Probably second half, I would think," he added.
He indicated he won't be bringing the number of junior ministers back up to the levels it was at when the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition took office. But he did signal he was willing to promote "the talent" from the backbenches.
Mr Kenny said he had yet to decide who will become the European Commissioner.
But he failed to quell speculation about Mr Hogan wanting the position, when asked specifically if the Environment Minister was in the frame.
"I hear names being mentioned all over the place. They are all noses to the grindstone at the moment," he said.
The normal pattern over the past 15 years has been to hold a reshuffle after the local and European elections.
The European Commission appointment after the European elections creates a plum post, usually sought after by ministers at Cabinet level.
Mr Kenny has also continued the practice of picking junior ministers from the pool of Oireachtas committee chairmen.
By Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor