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Cabinet looks safe in Cowen reshuffle

EVERY sitting minister is almost certain to be still in the Cabinet after Brian Cowen's long-awaited reshuffle.

The Taoiseach is due to announce details of the new ministries this evening.

He will bail out Green Party leader John Gormley by handing the coalition partner a second junior ministry, meaning Ciaran Cuffe will get a promotion without having to oust Gormley from the Department of Environment.

Sources say that Mr Cowen will "remain loyal" to his current Cabinet including his gaffe-prone Tanaiste Mary Coughlan and embattled Health Minister Mary Harney.

The only position under threat is that of Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith.

"This is not about rocking the boat, it's about steadying the ship," said a source.

Ms Coughlan's role in enterprise, trade and employment will be diluted but she will stay on as deputy leader of the Government. The restructuring of her department will be key to the reshuffle, alongside filling the gaps left by the resignations of Willie O'Dea and Martin Cullen.

TD for Clare Tony Killeen is expected to be slotted into the Department of Defence as a straight-forward replacement for O'Dea.

There are number of names being tipped for the second promotion. Current Gaeltacht Minister Eamon O Cuiv may be handed a newly created department containing responsibilities from both the Departments of Arts, Sport and Tourism and Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.