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We're not too old to set world on fire, insists FG

FINE GAEL'S new deputy leader today rejected suggestions the party's new frontbench was too old saying it "will set the world on fire".

Only three of Enda Kenny's new team are aged under 40 but Dr James Reilly insisted the leader "got the mix right between youth and experience".

Mr Kenny had put a team around him and was "a man of honour, integrity and bottle" said Dr Reilly.

However, anyone surveying the photograph of the new team will struggle to pinpoint a politician without some grey hairs.

In fact, Leo Varadkar, Simon Coveney and Paul Kehoe are the only members -- out of a frontbench of 22 -- to fall into the under 40 category.

Dr Reilly told the Herald: "I think he's got the necessary mix of hardened steel and new energy that is going to bring this country back from the brink and restore our economy, fix our health service and make our streets safe."

The new deputy leader added: "There is new blood there. There are people who have worked hard and they're getting their chance now like Catherine Byrne and Deirdre Clune. John Perry is a very successful and experienced businessman and he's going to add greatly to our economic team.

"You can hardly say that Frankie Feighan is on the older side of things.

"Michael Noonan has a huge amount of experience and everyone is looking forward to seeing him in action again in finance".


The re-appointment of Richard Bruton, he added was "hugely important".

Mr Bruton's declaration a few weeks ago that he would never serve under Enda Kenny was something that was said in the heat of battle and often people had time to reflect when things calmed down, he said.

Leo Varadkar was youthful, enthusiastic and energetic and Andrew Doyle was another young person "so you have a nice mix of experience and energy there, with Sean Barrett coming back in foreign affairs.

"I have absolutely no doubt there will be new policies and certainly a new slant on policies as people take over portfolios and put their personal stamp on it. It will be my job to ensure policies are implemented."

The TDs sacked from Fine Gael's frontbench were last night told by Enda Kenny they could still serve in government if and when the party gets in to power.

This, however, is regarded as unlikely as it is much more probable that Mr Kenny as Taoiseach would pick cabinet ministers from his new frontbench.

The Fine Gael leader plans to contact the sacked frontbenchers, as he did not speak to most of them in the days before the reshuffle. In any new government Fine Gael could expect to get around 10 ministerial positions, with Labour taking at least five in any coalition.