Saturday 16 December 2017

No entry to 'war cabinet' for Burton

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore is not going to expand the "war cabinet" to accommodate Social Protection Minister Joan Burton – despite her complaints about not being consulted on key decisions.

It came after Ms Burton gave an unconvincing denial of problems between her and Mr Gilmore. She said they did not spend a lot of time in each other's company but had a friendly "political professional" relationship, with a lot of discussion.

During her interview on RTE's 'Marian Finucane' show, she criticised unnamed advisers who found it boring to have discussions when they had already made the decisions.

But a Labour source said that Ms Burton was frustrated at not being a member of the four-person war cabinet – the Economic Management Council (EMC) – that discusses key Budget and economic decisions before they are brought to the full cabinet.

The source said that it was already finely balanced – with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Finance Minister Michael Noonan representing Fine Gael and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin representing Labour.

"Joan Burton is obviously not happy at not being part of the EMC. But to include herself and Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte would be disastrous for the balance," the source said.


Mr Gilmore is due to address Labour backbenchers today at the Labour think-in event in Enfield in Meath at a time when the party's latest rating in the 'Sunday Business Post'/Red C opinion poll is 10pc – its lowest rating since 2008.

However, Mr Gilmore is expected to tell them that the party has helped to turn around the economic situation in Government – with more than 3,000 jobs per month created in the past year.

He is also expected to set out Labour's demands for "family friendly" policies in the Budget, such as free GP care for children under five, reducing the cost of school uniforms and books, and providing ways to help people retro-fit their houses to reduce high energy bills.

And he will hail Labour's role in passing the abortion legislation – which was a long-standing demand in Labour Party election manifestos.

Irish Independent

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