Noonan steps in to save Deenihan's job
Arts Minister enjoys a reprieve as focus shifts to Hogan's successor
Enda Kenny's senior Cabinet re-shuffle may involve just one personnel change with some reallocation of departments, it has emerged.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan is reported to have intervened on behalf of long-time supporter Jimmy Deenihan to help him save his Cabinet seat.
Leinster House sources suggested that Mr Kenny may now confine himself to replacing Phil Hogan who will be named as Ireland's new EU Commissioner as part of the government changes expected to be announced shortly.
Dublin Central TD and Junior EU Affairs Minister Paschal Donohoe was still favourite to take the vacant Cabinet seat, though not necessarily in that department.
The new Environment Minister's job is still between FG Cabinet young guns Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney.
The reallocation of portfolios is central to ongoing Fine Gael-Labour negotiations on the renewal of the Coalition's priorities.
There have been weeks of speculation that Mr Kenny was considering dropping at least two ministers – Dr James Reilly from Health and Jimmy Deenihan from Arts and Heritage – but last night sources said this was unlikely.
Dr Reilly was still expected to move from Health but rated as likely to remain in cabinet in another role. And Jimmy Deenihan was also likely to retain his Cabinet seat, though his role may also be changed.
It has emerged that Mr Deenihan's case has been strengthened by the intervention of Finance Minister Michael Noonan.
Mr Deenihan has also been at Leinster House almost as long as Mr Noonan and his North Kerry base borders Mr Noonan's Limerick constituency. FG sources also said that Mr Deenihan's chances have also been enhanced by constituency changes which see Kerry going to a unitary five-seat constituency at the next election.
"Fine Gael need Mr Deenihan in Kerry next time out. It's as simple as that," one party source told the Irish Independent.
Government chief whip Paul Kehoe's chances of full Cabinet membership also appear unlikely, with sources describing him as a victim of his own success in his current role. The Wexford TD is credited with helping Mr Kenny win the 2010 leadership heave and managing difficulties like the abortion legislation in the first half of 2013.