herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Kenny’s wife to advise on the reshuffle

Enda and Fionnuala Kenny. Photo: Mark Condren
Enda and Fionnuala Kenny. Photo: Mark Condren

AS GOVERNMENT re-shuffle speculation reaches fever pitch, a figure has emerged as one of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's key advisors in deciding on the new cabinet team expected to be announced next week.

Mr Kenny's wife Fionnuala O'Kelly will have a considerable input into his final decisions several ministers believe.

A well-placed Fine Gael source told The Herald: "He [The Taoiseach] always has set great store by Fionnuala's political judgement and her views on big-picture presentation. There is no doubt that she will be very influential in the coming week."

Ms O'Kelly served as a press officer for Fianna Fail leader, Charlie Haughey, from 1981 to 1990 which were years of extraordinary political turmoil in national politics and ongoing strife within FF.

She was for a time head of the Government Information Service before moving on to become head of the RTE press service.

"There is a lot at stake in this reshuffle and there are few people he can rely on. I believe she will have a big input," the FG source added.

Meanwhile, it's yet to be determined who in the Labour Party will be contributing to the deliberations.

Battle

Fine Gael's coalition partners are still locked in a leadership battle between Social Protection Minister Joan Burton and Junior Health Minister Alex White, with the result being announced after the election on Friday.

TDs and Senators in both government parties at Leinster House concede that the Taoiseach has so far managed an "information lockdown" and not consulted anyone inside his parliamentary party.

Mr Kenny has confined discussions on his reshuffle plans to his small advisory team at Government Buildings.

Mr Kenny is principally relying upon his own judgement to pick his nine senior ministers and nine juniors. Apart from his wife, he is relying on advisers, Andrew McDowell and Mark Kennelly, for their views.

Several posts are up for grabs with Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, and outgoing leader Eamon Gilmore tipped as heading for the backbenches.

Fine Gael still expect Environment Minister, Phil Hogan, to be appointed Ireland's EU Commissioner while under-fire Health Minister James Reilly is considered vulnerable.

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