Monday 19 March 2018

'Trust' will be at the core of Varadkar's considerations for new Cabinet

Newly appointed Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar. Photo: Tom Burke
Newly appointed Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that "trust" will at the core of his considerations as he selects his Cabinet ministers.

And the new Fine Gael leader also failed to give any assurances to ministers like Simon Harris who backed leadership rival Simon Coveney, that they will feature in his ministerial line-up.

At a press conference today he was asked about a radio interview where Mr Coveney said he "hopes and expects" Mr Harris will remain in Cabinet.

Mr Varadkar said he would select a Cabinet "on the basis of my assessment of what’s best for the country and the best people who should be in that."

Leo Varadkar is trying to broaden the base and membership of his party. Photo: Reuters
Leo Varadkar is trying to broaden the base and membership of his party. Photo: Reuters

He added that this will be "be the sole basis on which I make those decisions."

He also said "anyone who heads up a government, heads up a football team needs to know that everyone on that team is going to be fully behind your programme."

Mr Varadkar said his key consideration is going to be "ability and the capability of people to do the job".

He added: "After that I’ll take into account, as should be taken into account, the need for a degree of regional balance, a degree of gender balance and of course the core issue of trust because anyone who runs a Cabinet".

He didn't expand on his talks with Mr Coveney - who's been tipped as the next Tánaiste - but said it was "a very good meeting".

But he said: "We agreed that the contents of that meeting would be entirely confidential".

Mr Varadkar acknowledged that there are many in Fine Gael with hopes of promotion to the ministerial ranks.

"I imagine the expectations are already phenomenally larger than can possibly be achieved.

"As is always the case with these things... there will be more disappointments than appointments.

"But even if people are not appointed I’m sure in the future there will be vacancies.

"There will be a reshuffle in 2019 if we get that far after the local and European elections so I’d hope that anyone who is disappointed doesn’t think that they’ve lost out forever."

He said he has considered different options for who to appoint to ministerial roles, but added: "I haven’t made any decisions at all because absolutely my focus these days has been on the meetings with Independents, with Fianna Fáil, getting on top of my responsibilities as the new leader of Fine Gael"

Mr Varadkar said he has also had briefings in relation to his likely appointment as Taoiseach on issues surrounding the public finances, public pay talks and security.

Mr Varadkar said he had "fruitful" talks with various Independent TDs supporting the government.

He said he's had no discussions will Independent TD Michael Lowry - who has been backing the Fine Gael-led government - as yet. 

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