Doyle likely to miss out as Coveney tipped for agriculture portfolio

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Several deputies remain in the running for the agriculture portfolio but, as we went to press, there was still no clear indication of who might be given the nod.

The position will almost certainly be held by a Fine Gael deputy. While Labour's Willie Penrose or Sean Sherlock would have a good grasp of the sector, they are on the wrong side of the coalition to be among the favourites.

The shortlist within Fine Gael includes Simon Coveney, Jimmy Deenihan and Andrew Doyle.

Given Phil Hogan's performance as director of elections for Fine Gael, it is widely accepted that he will have his choice of ministry.

But while he has been linked with the agriculture portfolio, the Kilkenny TD has his sights set on environment.

However, whether that position remains the gift of Taoiseach-elect Enda Kenny will largely depend on how the negotiations with Labour conclude.

It is expected that the divide of cabinet seats will leave Fine Gael with 10, including Taoiseach, with Labour taking five.

Of the other contenders, Coveney is considered to be the front runner. Cork will have to get a place at the cabinet table and Coveney in agriculture might fit the bill.

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Having topped the poll in Wicklow, Doyle, Fine Gael's current agriculture spokesman, will be in the shake-up. The view among party insiders is that Doyle will not get a full ministry this time around.

It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Kerry TD Jimmy Deenihan could be rewarded for his loyalty to Kenny during last autumn's coup with the agriculture job.

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