Saturday 14 December 2019

Nervous wait ahead for those hopeful of junior posts

Simon Harris is being tipped for promotion to the junior ministerial ranks next week
Simon Harris is being tipped for promotion to the junior ministerial ranks next week

Fionnan Sheahan

FINE Gael TDs Simon Harris and Damien English are both being tipped for promotion to the junior ministerial ranks next week.

On the Labour Party side Kevin Humphreys, Joanna Tuffy, John Lyons, Ann Phelan and Ann Ferris are in the mix.

So too are Arthur Spring, Derek Nolan and Aodhan O Riordain.

A comprehensive clear-out of junior ministers is anticipated, with up to five changes in Fine Gael and four in Labour.

Although some of the changes have been made already in the Cabinet reshuffle, backbenchers and existing junior ministers will face a nervous wait.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is expected to promote a mixed batch of new TDs from 2011 and more experienced deputies who go back to the 2007 and 2002 general elections.

Among the names being mentioned for Fine Gael are Regina Doherty, Mary Mitchell-O'Connor and Aine Collins.

Frank Feighan and Joe McHugh are also under consideration.

Mr Kenny is also expected to have his eye on the need for geography and gender balance.

Vacancies have arisen as a result of Brian Hayes' departure to Europe as an MEP and Paschal Donohoe's promotion to Cabinet. As a result, two of the most attractive junior ministries are empty – Junior Finance Minister for the OPW and Junior Taoiseach's Department for European Affairs.

Junior Minister for Small Business John Perry is regarded as in trouble, as his post has effectively been given to Labour.

Junior Minister for New Era Fergus O'Dowd, Junior Minister for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley and Junior Minister for Education Ciaran Cannon are also in the firing line.

In Labour, the elevation of Jan O'Sullivan, Alex White and Alan Kelly creates three vacancies in the junior ministerial ranks. Junior Minister for Foreign Affairs Joe Costello is also viewed being likely to be dropped.

After missing out on Cabinet promotion, Kathleen Lynch is expected to remain a junior minister and Junior Jobs Minister Sean Sherlock is vying with backbencher Michael McCarthy for another slot.

Labour is expected to get a junior minister in the Department of Agriculture.

Within the party, there are suggestions some junior ministers from Dublin will have to be promoted, such as Mr Humphreys, Ms Tuffy, Mr Lyons and Mr O Riordain. Likewise in the south-east, Ms Phelan, Ms Ferris and Ms Conway are vying for a position.

Irish Independent

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