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Wednesday 24 January 2018

Ministers 'safe until July' as Enda keeps focus on presidency

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has given his clearest indication he plans a reshuffle next year – but Ireland's EU Presidency has provided a "reprieve" to ministers for the first six months.

Mr Kenny also said the Government will be far too busy during the EU Presidency so ministers are "safe until July".

The Irish Independent revealed this month a government reshuffle is on the cards – with big guns such as Eamon Gilmore and James Reilly likely to move departments.

Ministers have nine months to prove their worth with a rejig now anticipated in the autumn.

Mr Kenny signalled he won't be changing his ministers once the coalition has been in office for two years in March because of the work involved in the EU Presidency.

The Taoiseach has decided to keep ministers guessing about his plans, but hinted at movement after the term is up. "Well now, wouldn't it be nice to know that? I think we have got a very big focus here on the presidency. I have spoken to each individual minister, they have got a hell of a workload, for which they have been well prepared," he said.

"So if you want to say that is a reprieve, say it's a reprieve, but these are matters, I suppose, that are always floating around in people's heads. I am interested in results actually."

The reshuffle will also see the Labour Party's hostility towards Health Minister Dr James Reilly come to a head as the junior coalition party are set to demand he is removed from the sensitive department.

Dr Reilly continues to be a festering sore between the parties and the weak link in the Cabinet.

And Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is almost certainly to move to a more frontline portfolio in the coming shake-up.

But there also will be question marks over the so-called 'Dad's Army' of veteran ministers, including Michael Noonan and Ruairi Quinn.

Rumours circulating in political circles of a March reshuffle have been rejected by senior Government sources, with September now regarded as the most likely date. It will be the half-way point of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition's term in office.

Irish Independent

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