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Reilly rallies backbenchers to keep him in top health job

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has begun a desperate ring-around of Fine Gael backbenchers to obtain support ahead of the Cabinet reshuffle.

The Dublin North TD is expected to be dropped as Health Minister, with Richard Bruton the favourite to replace him as the Taoiseach views him as a "safe pair of hands".

But he admitted at a press conference yesterday as he launched a crucial report on reforms for junior doctors, that he had been contacting his party colleagues.

"I would regularly be talking to backbenchers and calling backbenchers,"he said.

"That is my duty as deputy leader to do this and as a minister. I have a greater duty to do it as the deputy leader,"he added.

"Everybody knows that my passion is health, but equally I've always made it very clear that the Taoiseach has to place people wherever he feels they'll best serve and I respect that."


Reilly reiterated a number of times that he will "respect the Taoiseach's wishes" when the reshuffle takes place this week.

It is expected that the final line-up will be decided on Wednesday.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said he expects the cabinet re-shuffle to be completed by Wednesday and that it will be "reasonably significant".

Mr Noonan said on his way into a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels, that he also expects the nomination of the Maire Geoghegan Quinn's successor as Ireland's EU commissioner to be announced as part of the re-shuffle.

"I would expect that whoever's nominated will be in that list," he added.