Sunday 19 January 2020

New housing minister to come from Kenny's Seanad nominees

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny eyeing ‘political outsider. Photo: Arthur Carron
Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny eyeing ‘political outsider. Photo: Arthur Carron
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny's new Cabinet is set to have at least one senator, according to senior party sources.

And it is now widely accepted within Government Buildings that Mr Kenny will have to abandon his promise that 50pc of ministers will be women.

The Irish Independent also understands that Mr Kenny wants to appoint an expert in housing, most likely from the charity sector, to the Seanad and then make them a junior minister.

Fine Gael is keen that the next government is seen as being "diverse" despite the fact that it will operate in a minority setting whereby Fine Gael will be by far the largest party.

Sources say that one proposal "very much being discussed" is using at least one of the Taoiseach's nominees to the Seanad as a Cabinet minister.

The position this person would hold will depend on the outcome of talks with Independents and how many ministries the party has to give up in order to secure enough support for a minority government.

Mr Kenny is also looking at approaching a "political outsider" to help deal with the housing crisis.

A number of names have already been floated in Government Buildings, although it is unlikely that anybody will be approached before polls in the Seanad election close next Monday.

"If you appoint somebody who is working on the ground with homeless people and is directly involved in the day to day issues that could help take some of the political heat out of it," said a minister.

There is a growing acceptance within Fine Gael that its target of a 50/50 gender split in Cabinet will not happen.

All except two of the 15 Independents involved in talks are male and Fine Gael has just 11 female TDs of its own, four of whom are first timers.

Frances Fitzgerald and Heather Humphreys appear certain to hold onto Cabinet positions, while Mary Mitchell O'Connor, Regina Doherty and Marcella Corcoran Kennedy will be vying for promotion.

Irish Independent

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