Friday 19 January 2018

Kenny emotional as he prepares for big moment

Enday Kenny has admitted he feels emotional as he prepares for his official appointment to the office of Taoiseach.

The new coalition government is due to be sworn in and Enda Kenny formally elected Taoiseach when the Dail meets at noon.

Mr Kenny, leader of centre-right party Fine Gael, claimed the country faced a good future if it could restore its reputation and build a sense of credibility.

"I feel a bit emotional in a way. It's been a long journey for me personally," Mr Kenny said.

"But it's a brilliant day for politics and for democracy and all of those TDs who have been elected for the first time. For them and their families this is a wonderful occasion.

"Many of them will go on to serve in this House for 25 or 30 years. There's some brilliant talent out there right across the board."

Mr Kenny said the new government would be open with the public.

"People always, always look for a sense of openness and integrity and decency, honesty in politics and that's what they're going to get," he said.

"Whether the news be good or bad, the people are entitled to know."

The make-up of the expected 15-strong cabinet will be unveiled when Mr Kenny takes to his feet in the Dail chamber alongside coalition partners Labour led by Eamon Gilmore.

The leaders spent the last two days in meetings putting the finishing touches to the new front bench, with Fine Gael expected to get 10 ministerial portfolios and Labour five.

Fine Gael TD Sean Barrett revealed he would be nominated for Ceann Comhairle (House Speaker).

"I think I might have a job all right to do, and I'm looking forward to it," Mr Barrett said.

"I think I'm being nominated as Ceann Comhairle. Have to wait to be approved by the Dail, of course."

The 31st Dail will kick off at noon when the new Ceann Comhairle will be elected, followed by the appointment of the new Taoiseach and members of the cabinet.

The government will then travel to Aras an Uachtarain where President Mary McAleese will present members with their seals of office.

Fine Gael's Michael Noonan is widely expected to get the coveted finance portfolio, while Labour is tipped for the attorney general post, giving the smaller party potentially six seats at the cabinet table.

Other Fine Gael TDs tipped for a ministry include programme for government negotiators Phil Hogan and Alan Shatter, as well as Richard Bruton, Leo Varadkar, Sean Barrett, James Reilly, Simon Coveney and Jimmy Deenihan.

Labour hopefuls include former leaders Pat Rabbitte and Ruairi Quinn, Roisin Shortall and Brendan Howlin, with the party's finance spokesman, Joan Burton, widely expected to get the new finance brief with responsibility for expenditure and public sector reform.

Leader Mr Gilmore is expected to take on a new foreign affairs and trade brief.

Mr Kenny will face his first official engagement on Friday when he travels to Brussels for an extraordinary European Council meeting, where he will meet other heads of state.

In government the two parties have pledged to seek better repayment terms for last December's €85bn EU/IMF rescue package.

Under the partnership deal a new super-ministry will be set up within the cabinet to take sole charge of the country's economic direction.

The Department of Finance will be split in two. The finance minister will look after budgets and taxes while an estimates and public service reform minister will take control of spending and the overhaul of the public sector.

Preparations were under way inside and outside Leinster House for the first Dail sitting, with large crowds of supporters from Mr Kenny's native Co Mayo expected to descend on Dublin to welcome his appointment.

Press Association

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