News Irish News

Saturday 24 March 2018

Labour big guns Quinn and Rabbitte face axe

Gilmore planning to bring in fresh faces before election

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and Communications Minister
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and Communications Minister

Fionnan Sheahan Group Political Editor

TWO former Labour leaders – Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte – are facing the axe in next year's Cabinet reshuffle as the party looks to freshen up its line-up going into the general election.

Ahead of the party's national conference, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is firing a warning shot to his veteran ministers that he intends to bring in some new blood in the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle.

It will take place either in the new year or in summer 2014 in line with the appointment of a new European commissioner.

Mr Quinn, the Education Minister, and Mr Rabbitte, the Communications Minister, are being tipped by Labour insiders for the axe in the reshuffle, as it is expected they will not run in the next general election. In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Gilmore said for the first time there will be "changes in the membership of the Government" and pointed out he has "very talented" figures available in the party.

"I think pretty well in every government that has gone full term there have been some changes in the membership of the government and in the positions that members of the government hold.

"And I expect that that will be the same in the lifetime of this Government, but we haven't yet discussed that or considered it," he said.

Mr Gilmore, distinguishing between changes in the "membership" of Government and swapping positions, clearly denotes there will be switches in personnel at Cabinet level.

Labour members are gathering in Killarney for a three-day conference,

where the party will seek to revive its lagging fortunes.

Mr Gilmore will put the focus on providing relief for hard-pressed working families.

Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan is similarly in the firing line, with question marks over whether she is running again.

Labour sources say the expectation the veteran ministers are not going to contest the next general election is the primary motivation behind them being dropped.

Mr Gilmore, Joan Burton and Brendan Howlin are going nowhere and will remain the party's backbone in Cabinet.

Mr Rabbitte remains a close confidante and key supporter of Mr Gilmore. It is the prospect of him not running in the next general election that is likely to cost him in the reshuffle.

Mr Quinn is frequently linked with the European Commissioner's post, but this is regarded as Fine Gael's to refuse.


Within Labour, there is widespread speculation Mr Rabbitte will retire and be replaced on the party ticket by junior minister Alex White.

Likewise, Mr Quinn is expected to be replaced by his nephew, Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisin Quinn.

Mr White and Kathleen Lynch, both junior health ministers, are being tipped for promotion, with young guns Sean Sherlock and Alan Kelly also battling it out.

Junior minister Joe Costello is also being linked with being dropped from the ministerial ranks.

The junior ministers promoted to the Cabinet will be replaced by backbenchers. Among those linked with promotion are Ciaran Lynch, Michael McCarthy, Joanna Tuffy, Ged Nash, Derek Nolan, Aodhan O Riordain, Arthur Spring and Michael McNamara.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News