Sunday 20 August 2017

Latest in FG leadership race: Battle for cabinet jobs under way - and Varadkar is out to expose SF

Leo Varadkar at his ‘Taking Fine Gael Forward’ party policy paper launch in Dublin . Photo: Tom Burke
Leo Varadkar at his ‘Taking Fine Gael Forward’ party policy paper launch in Dublin . Photo: Tom Burke

Kevin Doyle and Philip Ryan

Major jockeying for positions in Leo Varadkar's cabinet is under way amid claims the minister has over-promised his supporters.

Existing ministers who rowed in behind the Dublin TD expect to hold on to their positions while senior TDs who helped mastermind Mr Varadkar's election strategy are lining up for promotion.

The minister has always maintained he has not done any preliminary work on the make-up of his potential cabinet - although sources claim this is not credible given his massive level of support within the parliamentary party.

"It'll be the first big test of his leadership, that's for sure," said one Varadkar supporter.

Richard Bruton, who surprised many with his early backing of the Social Protection Minister, is now being tipped for the Department of Finance.

This would leave Paschal Donohoe in the Department of Public Expenditure for the duration of the public sector pay talks which got under way this week.

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Frances Fitzgerald is likely to survive in Cabinet but sources say Mr Varadkar will drop her as Tánaiste, possibly in favour of Heather Humphreys.

Ms Humphreys is currently Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister.

However, sources believe Mr Varadkar has plans to redesign the vast department in order to put Michael Ring in charge of Rural Affairs.

Mr Varadkar's key supporters Eoghan Murphy, John Paul Phelan and John Deasy are being tipped to move up the ranks.

Mr Murphy is likely to become jobs minister in place of Mary Mitchell O'Connor, as a question mark has been placed over her position in Cabinet.

Promises

Mr Phelan is in line to be Government chief whip, while Mr Deasy's name is being mentioned in connection with the Department of Justice.

Others with cabinet expectations include Regina Doherty, Paul Kehoe, Charlie Flanagan, Josepha Madigan and Michael D'Arcy.

"There's going to be a lot of disappointed people because there's not enough jobs to go around. If he has made promises he can't keep, that will immediately drive division in the party," a source said.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney yesterday refused to back up the private claims among some TDs and senators that his rival "bought" votes.

"I've deliberately stayed away from talking about people's careers and whether I or anybody else is in Cabinet or not," he said.

Mr Coveney said his Oireachtas colleagues had to make choices and he was "not going to comment on their motivations for that".

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"And I'm not going to hold grudges against people," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar has launched a scathing attack on Sinn Féin, saying it is the "greatest threat to our democracy".

He said he was concerned that Gerry Adams's party was still attracting young voters and said this was something he would look to change as Fine Gael leader.

"I look at the data and I look at the opinion polls, Sinn Féin is performing very well with voters under 35. I am very concerned about that. Part of my mission as leader, if I have that opportunity, is to take Sinn Féin on and expose it," he said.

Fine Gael parliamentary party endorsements for leader

The Fine Gael parliamentary party makes up 65pc of the total electorate.

That makes each of the 73 members' votes worth 0.9pc of the total ballot.

Of the remaining electorate, 230 party councillors account for 10pc, while the remaining 25pc is rank and file members.

Leo Varadkar
Simon Coveney

Total: 45

Total: 19

Ministers: 17

Ministers: 5

TDs: 16

TDs: 5

Senators: 11

Senators: 8

MEPs: 1

MEPs: 1

Richard Bruton -MinisterSimon Harris - Minister
Frances Fitzgerald - MinisterDamien English - Minister
Michael Ring - MinisterDara Murphy - Minister
Eoghan Murphy - MinisterDavid Stanton - Minister
Sean Kyne - MinisterMarcella Corcoran Kennedy - Minister
Joe McHugh - MinisterKate O'Connell - TD
Helen McEntee - MinisterMaria Bailey - TD
Charlie Flanagan - MinisterSean Barrett TD
Paul Kehoe -MinisterHildegard Naughton - TD
Patrick O'Donovan - MinisterPeter Fitzpatrick - TD
Regina Doherty - MinisterTim Lombard - Senator
Mary Mitchell O'Connor - MinisterJerry Buttimer - Senator
Paschal Donohoe - MinisterPaudie Coffey - Senator
Heather Humphreys - MinisterJames Reilly - Senator
Pat Breen - MinisterColm Burke - Senator
Catherine Byrne - MinisterJohn O'Mahony - Senator
Andrew Doyle - MinisterPaul Coghlan - Senator
John Paul Phelan - TDGabrielle McFadden - Senator
Noel Rock - TDDeirdre Clune - MEP
Tony McLoughlin - TD 
Alan Farrell - TD 
Michael D'Arcy - TD 
Tom Neville - TD 
Josepha Madigan - TD 
Pat Deering - TD 
Jim Daly - TD 
Brendan Griffin - TD 
Ciaran Cannon - TD 
Colm Brophy - TD 
Peter Burke - TD 
Fergus O'Dowd - TD 
John Deasy - TD 
Joe Carey - TD 
Neale Richmond - Senator 
Catherine Noone - Senator 
Paddy Burke - Senator 
Martin Conway - Senator 
Michelle Mulherin - Senator 
Maura Hopkins - Senator 
Ray Butler - Senator 
Frank Feighan - Senator 
Maria Byrne - Senator 
Joe O'Reilly - Senator 
Kieran O'Donnell - Senator 
Brian Hayes - MEP 
Undeclared
Enda Kenny - Outgoing Party Leader *Martin Heydon - Party Chairman *
Michael Noonan - MinisterMichael Creed - Minister
Bernard Durkan - TDSean Kelly - MEP
Mairead McGuinness MEP  

* Outgoing leader Enda Kenny and party chairman Martin Heydon will not make an endorsement

Irish Independent

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