herald

Friday 20 October 2017

It's the joy of six as fresh faces sign up to Enda and Joan's team

SIX new faces are this morning settling into Cabinet roles - including failed Labour leadership candidate Alex White and relatively unknown rural back-bencher Heather Humphreys.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced the new line-up after a week of painstaking negotiations with new Labour leader and Tanaiste Joan Burton.

The most radical changes came on the Labour side with three former party leaders, Eamon Gilmore, Pat Rabbitte and Ruairi Quinn leaving Cabinet in a clearing out of the party's old guard.

surprises

The personnel decisions made by Ms Burton raised relatively few surprises among Labour TDs. There was change on the Fine Gael side too with Kerry TD Jimmy Deenihan leaving Cabinet to take up a junior ministerial role and Phil Hogan leaving Environment to go to Brussels as Ireland's next EU Commissioner designate.

The new Labour Deputy leader, Alan Kelly, replaces Mr Hogan, having served as junior transport minister.

The Tipperary TD has impressed fellow TDs with his plain-spoken nature, however, other party sources have described him as "divisive".

Dublin South's Alex White failed in his bid to become Labour leader but was announced as the replacement for his mentor, Mr Rabbitte, at the Communications Department.

In an ironic twist Mr Rabbitte had supported Mr White during the leadership contest and was expected to be kept in Cabinet if the Dublin South TD beat Ms Burton. The former RTE journalist played a significant role in the medical cards fiasco, having served as Minister for State with responsibility for Primary Care.

He also was involved in the plot to oust Mr Gilmore by the so-called gang of eight. Mr White gave the seven TDs and one senator his support but denied suggestions by several party figures that he was about to resign over Mr Gilmore's leadership.

Junior Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan was promoted to Education, taking the place of Mr Quinn who announced last week that he was steeping down from the post ahead of the reshuffle. Dublin Central Fine Gael TD Paschal Donohue is the new Transport, Sport and Tourism Minister.

Another new-comer is Heather Humphreys from Cavan-Monaghan with Fine Gael figures reacting warmly to her promotion to the Arts portfolio.

Louth TD Ged Nash will also have a seat at Cabinet after being appointed super junior minister at the Department of Enterprise.

He has been given specific responsibility for business and employment but will have no voting rights in Cabinet deliberations.

Dublin West TD Leo Varadkar has been moved to the difficult Health portfolio replacing Dublin North's Dr James Reilly, who is being transferred to the newly created Department of Children and Public Health.

Relatively recent Cabinet addition Charlie Flanagan will be the new Foreign Affairs Minister, taking over from Mr Gilmore.

Remaining in their portfolios are Finance Minister Michael Noonan, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney (also given responsibility for defence) and Ms Burton at Social Protection.

hnews@herald.ie

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