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Labour veterans to remain in Cabinet despite calls from disgruntled TDs

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore plans to shoot down demands from disgruntled party TDs for "fresh faces" in the Cabinet.

There are rumblings within Labour that the most senior members of the party's Cabinet team need to be freshened – particularly in the wake of the Meath East by-election defeat.

But the Tanaiste will not be asking Taoiseach Enda Kenny to bring forward plans for a Cabinet reshuffle next year – ruling out any prospect of Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte being moved until next year at the earliest. And Mr Gilmore is also going to stay in his job at the Department of Foreign Affairs – despite internal demands for him to take up a domestic ministry such as the Department of Jobs and Enterprise.

Some party members are questioning Mr Gilmore's leadership.

One dissident TD said Mr Gilmore was spending too much time out of the country in his role as Foreign Minister and needed to get a home-based brief as well as some "fresh faces" in Cabinet.

The positions of Social Protection Minister Joan Burton and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin are seen as safe, given their popularity in the parliamentary party.

Wounds

Mr Quinn is also well regarded for ensuring that education cutbacks were kept to a minimum in the recent Budget.

But some Labour TDs feel he has had long enough in Cabinet, given his service in four previous coalition governments – including his role as Finance Minister from 1995 to 1997.

Yesterday, Mr Quinn repeatedly avoided questions on RTE's 'Morning Ireland' about the demands for "fresh faces" in the Cabinet.

"That's a choice that will be made by the Tanaiste and the leader of the Labour party in due time, and I will respect whatever decision he makes," he said eventually.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny recently firmly ruled out any changes in the Cabinet this year, stating: "There will be no reshuffle in 2013."

Labour is currently licking its wounds after its candidate Eoin Holmes finished fifth in the Meath East by-election with under 5pc of the vote.

Irish Independent