Sunday 25 February 2018

Deenihan gets new adviser despite risk to cabinet seat

Mr Deenihan is believed to be losing his job when Enda Kenny unveils his new Cabinet
Mr Deenihan is believed to be losing his job when Enda Kenny unveils his new Cabinet
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

The Government approved a new special adviser for Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan despite uncertainty over his political future ahead of the Cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Deenihan is believed to be losing his job when Enda Kenny unveils his new Cabinet tomorrow.

However, last Tuesday, the Cabinet approved the appointment of a new adviser to his team in the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

It is thought Mr Deenihan will be demoted but the appointment of a special adviser suggests he will not be relegated to the backbenches.

His previous adviser, Damien Garvey, who was earning €83,337 a year, left the minister's office in May for a position in Bank of Ireland.

The Department Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht confirmed University of Limerick graduate Claire O'Keefe was appointed as his successor on May 26.

Mr Kenny's reshuffle plans have been a closely guarded secret and even his closest political allies have been kept out of the loop.

However, Mr Deenihan spent hours with Mr Kenny on Saturday afternoon when the pair took part in a charity cycle around the Ring of Kerry.

If Mr Deenihan is removed from Cabinet the blow may be softened by offering the veteran Kerry TD a junior ministry.

Kerry, up to now, had two three-seat constituencies but it will be merged into one five seat electorate area at the next general election.

Mr Deenihan's political pedigree almost guarantees Fine Gael a seat in the pivotal constituency.

"Kenny couldn't get rid of Jimmy, he's known him for years," a Fine Gael source said.

Other senior party figures have indicated there would be "serious trouble" if Mr Kenny appoints a TD who has not served as a junior minister to a full cabinet position.

Mr Deenihan's political future was thrown into the spotlight when the Irish Independent revealed he appointed a former county councillor to the board of the Irish Modern Art Museum (IMMA).

The appointment of political allies to state boards before leaving office was a signature of Fianna Fail administrations.

However, the coalition partners have proven they are not afraid of rewarding party colleagues with roles in state agencies.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan and Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, who are both thought to be leaving Cabinet, were accused of cronyism when it emerged they appointed ex-politicians to state boards.

Mr Rabbitte is expected to be ousted by the new Labour Party leader Joan Burton and it is believed Mr Hogan will become Ireland's next EU Commissioner.

Irish Independent

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