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Monday 18 December 2017

Creighton's fate now lies in hands of 'unforgiving' Kenny

Lucinda Creighton
Lucinda Creighton

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Lucinda Creighton's prospects of being a Fine Gael candidate in the next general election rest entirely with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

And senior party figures say Mr Kenny is in no mood to forgive the former European Affairs Minister after she voted against the abortion legislation and voiced such vociferous opposition to the Government's position.

The former junior minister will be entitled to receive a severance payment of around €40,000 because she held the post for over two years.

Ministers, when they leave office, are paid 'step down' severance payments to cover the reduction in pay. Ms Creighton's salary will now drop from €122,000 to €87,000.

Last week, under the Haddington Road Agreement, Junior Minister and TD salaries fell from €130,000 to €122,000 and €93,000 to €87,000 respectively. Cabinet Ministers salaries were also cut from €169,000 to €157,000.

The Taoiseach's decision to immediately replace Ms Creighton with new minister Paschal Donohoe, within hours of her vote against the Coalition, is viewed as a sign of Mr Kenny's animosity to the Dublin South-East TD.

"He acted fairly swiftly. It sends out a message: 'don't f*** with me'. There's no love lost there," a source close to Mr Kenny said.

"You couldn't view it any other way. I haven't seen him move so quickly before. There is a stark contrast with the previous case," a minister said.

Following the sudden death of Shane McEntee, Mr Kenny took five months to appoint his replacement.

Ms Creighton, pictured, was clearing out her office in the Department of the Taoiseach yesterday. Fine Gael sources say she will only be a candidate next time out if Mr Kenny personally puts her name forward be on the ticket.

As she is outside of the parliamentary party, Ms Creighton's nomination would have to be approved by the Fine Gael national executive – on the recommendation of Mr Kenny.

"We won't have any problem getting a candidate for a general election," a minister said.

"I don't think Kenny will allow any of them back in. He has that stubbornness in him," a senior party senator said.

"When he gets something inside his head, it's hard to change him," another minister said.

Although he lost five Fine Gael TDs over the abortion legislation, party figures argue Mr Kenny's position is strengthened by the firm stance he took on the abortion legislation.

"He showed great strength and courage in delivering a result. It will be seen as a significant achievement. It has strengthened his position. Strangely, there is a good mood in the party today," a party TD said.

As soon as he left the Dail chamber at the end of the voting on the legislation, the Taoiseach went back to his office in Government Buildings to arrange Mr Donohoe's appointment.

Mr Kenny held an incorporeal Cabinet meeting at 1:30am yesterday, with at least some ministers taking part over the phone. But ministers had been tipped off by the Taoiseach's officials that there would be a swift appointment.

Mr Donohoe was actually on the way home but got a call from an official in the Taoiseach's office telling him to turn around and come back. A statement was issued at 2am to confirm his appointment as European Affairs Minister.

Irish Independent

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