James Reilly to continue as deputy leader of FG despite losing Dáil seat
Former Minister James Reilly is to continue as deputy leader of Fine Gael when he enters the Seanad next week.
It had been thought Enda Kenny would appoint a new deputy after Mr Reilly lost his seat in the General Election.
However, a party spokesperson confirmed Mr Reilly's position, adding that any future changes would be "solely the prerogative of the leader".
Mr Reilly told the Irish Independent he was happy to remain as deputy leader and felt he would have more time to work with members now that he was not in government. "I have very much enjoyed being deputy leader. I've relished the opportunity. I look forward to putting more time into it now that I'm not a minister," he said.
It comes as Fine Gael ministers are split over the vacant position of party chairperson.
Kildare South TD Martin Heydon and Carlow/Kilkenny TD Pat Deering are both vying for the post, which is due to be filled by way of secret ballot on Wednesday.
It's emerged Mr Heydon was contacted by Enda Kenny about the position after missing out on a minstry.
However, there is a strong view among many backbenchers that Mr Deering should be handed the post in order to boost his public profile.
He is believed to have the support of Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar.
Meanwhile Waterford TD John Deasy has called for TDs to be allowed a free vote on Private Members Motions in the Dáil in the wake of the Government losing a vote this week.
Mr Deasy said parties would now seek to defeat the Government every week with similar motions and the Dáil is "in danger of turning into a weekly parliamentary charade". "Parliamentarians are in danger of masquerading as a decision-maker with these motions."