Friday 19 January 2018

Fine Gael's big hitters get top jobs in Cabinet

Kenny rewards the team that carried party through election

Fionnan Sheahan, Michael Brennan and Fiach Kelly

ENDA Kenny will today reward Fine Gael's heavy hitters with the key cabinet posts they wanted.

The Taoiseach-elect has nailed down a series of plum positions for the team that carried the party through the general election.

Phil Hogan, Michael Noonan, Alan Shatter, James Reilly and Richard Bruton will all be granted their first choice of cabinet positions.

Fine Gael will take 10 cabinet posts and Labour five.

Despite previously pledging to reduce the number of junior ministers to 12, the new Government will retain 15 positions.

Fine Gael will get 10 junior ministers, including the Government Chief Whip, and Labour five, including the super junior minister.

Last night, sources from Fine Gael and Labour said the likely cabinet line-up was expected to be:

  • Taoiseach: Enda Kenny.
  • Tanaiste and Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister: Eamon Gilmore.
  • Finance Minister: Michael Noonan.
  • Public Sector Reform Minister: Joan Burton.
  • Enterprise Minister: Richard Bruton.
  • Environment Minister: Phil Hogan.
  • Health Minister: James Reilly.
  • Justice Minister: Alan Shatter.
  • Social Welfare and Training: Brendan Howlin.
  • Agriculture Minister: Simon Coveney.
  • Transport and Tourism: Leo Varadkar or Fergus O'Dowd.
  • Culture, Community and Sport: Frances Fitzgerald.
  • Defence: Jimmy Deenihan or possibly Charlie Flanagan.
  • Education Minister: Sean Sherlock, Roisin Shortall, Emmet Stagg, Willie Penrose, Jan O'Sullivan or Ruairi Quinn.

There is also expected to be some reconfiguration of government departments. The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs will be merged elsewhere.

The super junior minister, who sits at the cabinet table, will also come from Labour. But this post is not expected to be the Minister for Children's role.

Fine Gael chief whip Paul Kehoe is expected to be named Government Chief Whip.

Labour has the gift of nominating the Attorney General, with barristers Brian Murray and Maire Whelan being linked to it.

Fine Gael will also appoint the Ceann Comhairle, with Sean Barrett being the top favourite and Fergus O'Dowd also being mentioned. Junior ministers will also be appointed by the end of this week.


Although Fine Gael figures were warning about a regional spread of ministers, the Cabinet will have a heavy contingent from Dublin. However, senior sources were saying there could be a surprise or two in store.

To make up for the lack of cabinet ministers, Mr Kenny will spread the junior ministerial positions more evenly around the country.

Dinny McGinley is expected to become Irish language minister. He will be joined in the junior ministerial ranks by a selection of Michael Ring, John Perry and possibly Frank Feighan.

Brian Hayes, Shane McEntee, David Stanton and Andrew Doyle are also tipped for promotion, along with some of those to miss out on cabinet positions.

The proposal for Irish to lose its position at the cabinet table and be downgraded to junior ministerial level will cause alarm in the Irish-speaking community.

The move comes after Mr Kenny attracted substantial criticism from the same circles over his proposal to drop Irish as a compulsory subject for the Leaving Cert.

However, this commitment has been significantly watered down in the Programme for Government agreed between Fine Gael and Labour.

The first sitting of the new Dail will happen at noon today, when a host of new TDs will arrive with their families and supporters at Leinster House.

Mr Kenny will be elected as Taoiseach at around lunchtime and he is then expected to head to Aras an Uachtarain by about 1.30pm to be officially appointed by President Mary McAleese.

He will then return to Leinster House in the afternoon to announce his new Cabinet at about 3.30pm.

Irish Independent

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