Sunday 25 February 2018

Gilmore in grab for more power

Tanaiste expands his presence in Department of the Taoiseach

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is strengthening his role in Taoiseach's Enda Kenny's department in a power play to have a bigger influence over government policy.

Mr Gilmore is expanding his presence in the Department of the Taoiseach, in a move reminiscent of former Labour Party leader Dick Spring's term as Tanaiste in the 1990s.

The Tanaiste is creating an entire structure in Government Buildings to implement his own agenda.

Mr Gilmore will have his own secretary general, reporting directly to him, and twice as many political advisers as the PDs or Green Party in their role as junior coalition partners.

Government officials insisted the Tanaiste was not replicating Mr Spring's set-up during the Labour coalitions from 1992 to 1997. "The Office of the Tanaiste won't be recreated," a spokesman said.

Mr Spring's operation was disbanded by then Tanaiste Mary Harney when the PDs came to power in 1997.

Ms Harney and Green Party leader John Gormley both had a spindoctor and adviser based in Government Buildings working on coalition policy. But Mr Gilmore is substantially expanding this arrangement in the new coalition.

A Labour source said Mr Gilmore's increased presence on Merrion Street reflects the larger size of his party compared to previous coalition partners.


While the PDs and Greens were only one 10th of the size of Fianna Fail in government, Labour has about half the number of TDs of Fine Gael.

The new post of second secretary general in the Department of the Taoiseach, will report to the Tanaiste, working specifically on new Economic Management Council and European Union activities.

There was some surprise within Government when the job description actually mentioned working directly for the Tanaiste three times.

Despite also serving as Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Gilmore wants to coordinate the EU work of all ministers and departments from Government Buildings.

The Economic Management Council is a mini-Cabinet, comprising of Mr Kenny, Mr Gilmore, Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.

Coalition sources say the council will ensure there is "joined-up thinking between Fine Gael and Labour".

The council will be chaired by the Taoiseach but managed by the Tanaiste.

Aside from the civil service apparatus, Mr Gilmore also has four politically appointed advisers based in Government Buildings: programme manager Mark Garrett; economic adviser Colm O Riordain; deputy government press secretary Cathy Madden; and policy adviser Jean O'Mahony.

The post of second secretary general will be filled in the coming weeks. It was only advertised internally among senior civil servants.

Irish Independent

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