Possible choices for Cabinet posts facing Taoiseach
TAOISEACH Brian Cowen yesterday left the door open for a wider reshuffle of his Cabinet, following the resignation of former defence minister Willie O'Dea. But Mr Cowen's trademark caution makes several Fianna Fail sources believe he will only replace Mr O'Dea directly.
Nonetheless, the Taoiseach does have the opportunity to make a number of changes to his senior ministerial line-up, with an eye on the next general election.
Here are Mr Cowen's options after Mr O'Dea:
Minimal: Put in a new Defence Minister from the ranks of his junior ministers. Government Chief Whip Pat Carey already sits at Cabinet and is a junior minister in the Department of Defence. Conor Lenihan is also being mentioned. Keeping the Cabinet position in the mid-west, Peter Power in Limerick East, Tony Killeen in Clare and Martin Mansergh in Tipperary South are the available choices.
Medium: Move around a larger number of ministers within the Cabinet and introduce some new faces to Cabinet from the junior ministerial ranks. In this scenario, Martin Cullen and Eamon O Cuiv would be under scrutiny. The long-running question mark over Mary Harney would also arise. Mary Coughlan would almost certainly be moved to a different portfolio.
Massive: A large clearout of senior ministers and wheeling in of several junior ministers and backbenchers. There are two chances of this happening.