Sunday 21 January 2018

Ministers tight-lipped as Cowen plans his reshuffle

ine Kerr

TWO ministers who are hot favourites to be sacked in the forthcoming Cabinet reshuffle remained tight-lipped yesterday about their futures.

Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Eamon O Cuiv refused to be drawn on whether he or his department would get the chop.

He insisted it was for Taoiseach Brian Cowen to decide on any reshuffle.

The other minister tipped to go is Arts, Sport and Tourism Minister Martin Cullen. He did not return calls last night.

Despite suggestions that he is in line to lose his job, Mr O Cuiv may yet survive because of the need for the Government to retain a senior minister in the western region.

However, his department is expected to be broken up.

"I've no thoughts on the matter," he said. "I will just wait until I get called one way or the other and that's always been my attitude towards appointments to Cabinet."

"I've done the job I was given... to the best of my ability. I will leave it to others to judge how I have run the department I was given. The Taoiseach knows how I have performed."

A significant rejig of government departments and changes in personnel are expected over the next two weeks.


Government sources have said the Taoiseach might opt to make the reshuffle announcement before he departs for Washington next week for the St Patrick's Day festivities.

Contenders for the position vacated by former defence minister Willie O'Dea are junior ministers Tony Killeen, Billy Kelleher, John Curran, Conor Lenihan and Government Chief Whip Pat Carey.

Favourites for a new 'super junior minister' linked to the Departments of the Taoiseach and Finance and with responsibility for reform of the public sector include junior ministers Dara Calleary and Dick Roche.

Meanwhile, a weekend opinion poll showed that support for the political parties remained unchanged, despite the recent turmoil and resignations.

Fine Gael continues to enjoy 34pc support, ahead of Fianna Fail on 27pc, Labour on 17pc, Sinn Fein on 9pc, the Greens on 5pc and independents on 8pc.

However, 43pc of voters in the 'Sunday Business Post'/RED C poll said they would be more likely to vote for Fine Gael if it had a different leader.

This comes in the aftermath of George Lee's dramatic resignation from the party and a series of poor media performances by Enda Kenny.

Irish Independent

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