Saturday 20 January 2018

Minister must come clean over the reasons for his departure from toughest job in politics

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar TD Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar TD Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The corridors of Leinster House were a sight to behold. It was a Friday evening in May and Enda Kenny had just made history.

By a margin of 10 votes, Mr Kenny was sworn in as the first Fine Gael Taoiseach to be trusted with leading our Government for a second consecutive term. The long-running political impasse had ended. As the evening sun faded, TDs gathered on the plinth or in the Dáil bar, relieved that normal service was due to resume. But Mr Kenny had one more piece of housekeeping to complete before he could retire for the evening and enjoy a couple of well-deserved pints.

He had to select his Cabinet, reward the people who had stuck by his side during the most gruelling of political negotiations.

Informed Fine Gael figures say Mr Kenny's strategy surrounding the reshuffle was very simple. He wanted to keep a sense of stability in his Cabinet.

There were certain politicians he wanted to reward of course, which he did.

These included Frances Fitzgerald, Paschal Donohoe, Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Simon Harris. Then there were those he felt he could rely on, those he wanted to remain in the job for a while. There was Michael Noonan, Charlie Flanagan and Leo Varadkar.

Read More: So let the voting begin - Varadkar has passed the hustings test

But reliable sources say the meeting between the Taoiseach and Mr Varadkar quickly turned sour.

The now frontrunner to succeed Mr Kenny was adamant that he would only remain in health if he was given a lot more cash, one billion euro in fact.

The meeting ended within minutes. Mr Kenny was perplexed. The shrewd politician in him decided to appoint Mr Varadkar to Social Protection - a job initially earmarked for Simon Harris.

The detail of this meeting has been kept mostly under wraps to date. But Mr Varadkar's claim that he has "unfinished business in health" changed all that.

Why did Mr Varadkar - the man who wants to lead our country through the challenges posed by Brexit - not jump at the chance at a further stint in Hawkins House? He refused to answer that question in Limerick yesterday. He must now provide not just the Fine Gael electorate, but the Irish people, with a full explanation. Otherwise, he will be seen as the man who ran away from a series of challenges, even before his tenure as the country's 14th Taoiseach begins.

Fine Gael parliamentary party endorsements for leader

The Fine Gael parliamentary party makes up 65pc of the total electorate.

That makes each of the 73 members' votes worth 0.9pc of the total ballot.

Of the remaining electorate, 230 party councillors account for 10pc, while the remaining 25pc is rank and file members.

Leo Varadkar
Simon Coveney

Total: 45

Total: 19

Ministers: 17

Ministers: 5

TDs: 16

TDs: 5

Senators: 11

Senators: 8

MEPs: 1

MEPs: 1

Richard Bruton -MinisterSimon Harris - Minister
Frances Fitzgerald - MinisterDamien English - Minister
Michael Ring - MinisterDara Murphy - Minister
Eoghan Murphy - MinisterDavid Stanton - Minister
Sean Kyne - MinisterMarcella Corcoran Kennedy - Minister
Joe McHugh - MinisterKate O'Connell - TD
Helen McEntee - MinisterMaria Bailey - TD
Charlie Flanagan - MinisterSean Barrett TD
Paul Kehoe -MinisterHildegard Naughton - TD
Patrick O'Donovan - MinisterPeter Fitzpatrick - TD
Regina Doherty - MinisterTim Lombard - Senator
Mary Mitchell O'Connor - MinisterJerry Buttimer - Senator
Paschal Donohoe - MinisterPaudie Coffey - Senator
Heather Humphreys - MinisterJames Reilly - Senator
Pat Breen - MinisterColm Burke - Senator
Catherine Byrne - MinisterJohn O'Mahony - Senator
Andrew Doyle - MinisterPaul Coghlan - Senator
John Paul Phelan - TDGabrielle McFadden - Senator
Noel Rock - TDDeirdre Clune - MEP
Tony McLoughlin - TD 
Alan Farrell - TD 
Michael D'Arcy - TD 
Tom Neville - TD 
Josepha Madigan - TD 
Pat Deering - TD 
Jim Daly - TD 
Brendan Griffin - TD 
Ciaran Cannon - TD 
Colm Brophy - TD 
Peter Burke - TD 
Fergus O'Dowd - TD 
John Deasy - TD 
Joe Carey - TD 
Neale Richmond - Senator 
Catherine Noone - Senator 
Paddy Burke - Senator 
Martin Conway - Senator 
Michelle Mulherin - Senator 
Maura Hopkins - Senator 
Ray Butler - Senator 
Frank Feighan - Senator 
Maria Byrne - Senator 
Joe O'Reilly - Senator 
Kieran O'Donnell - Senator 
Brian Hayes - MEP 
Enda Kenny - Outgoing Party Leader *Martin Heydon - Party Chairman *
Michael Noonan - MinisterMichael Creed - Minister
Bernard Durkan - TDSean Kelly - MEP
Mairead McGuinness MEP  

* Outgoing leader Enda Kenny and party chairman Martin Heydon will not make an endorsement

Irish Independent

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