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Finance post goes to FG as talks near end

ENDA KENNY and Eamon Gilmore are set to finalise coalition talks this evening -- ahead of a Labour Party conference tomorrow.

The Fine Gael and Labour party leaders will review the level of agreement between the parties today after their return from overseas engagements.

The talks are expected to be finalised today with significant progress already made.

A draft programme for Government is likely to be voted on by Labour's grassroots members tomorrow.

It is understood that the parties have struck a compromise on their differences in economic policies. Talks were adjourned at 11pm last night and were set to resume this morning.

It is believed that Fine Gael has won the prize of the finance minister's job in a coalition deal, but the Labour Party has secured a new high-powered post for public sector reform.

"Deal on. Both parties will be happy enough. The leaders are going to finalise that," a source said of the proposed ministerial share-out.

The identity of the ministers has to be decided by Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore, but Michael Noonan is the obvious favourite to become finance minister, with Pat Rabbitte and Joan Burton being mentioned for the public sector portfolio.

Mr Kenny and Mr Gilmore will agree upon the 10-5 or 9-6 split of Cabinet positions, with a super junior ministerial post being the makeweight.


Mr Kenny has indicated that a deal with Labour was the only show in town for forming a government by next Wednesday -- rather than dealing with independents.

He also indicated that he expected an agreement between his party and Labour to be in place when the Dail returns on Wednesday.

"The fact that a new Government will be elected next Wednesday provides an opportunity for a change of priority and a change of direction as far as Ireland is concerned," he said.