herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Pat Rabbitte has to go as Joan Burton wants a 'raft' of new faces

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Pat Rabbitte is the next senior Labour minister in line to lose his cabinet position, senior sources have said.

Ruairi Quinn stepped down from his position as education minister yesterday ahead of the impending reshuffle.

But Labour sources have confirmed to the Herald that leader-in-waiting Joan Burton, wants to appoint a "raft" of fresh faces after she is appointed.

Mr Rabbitte - who has insisted that he will not resign his ministry - is expected to be forced from the cabinet in the impending reshuffle.

"She'll be anxious as the new leader to be fresh and have new ideas and a raft of new faces and she wants the most dynamic team around her," said a senior Labour source last night.

Yesterday, Mr Quinn resigned his ministry in the Department of Education, saying he wanted to make way for new blood in the cabinet reshuffle next week.

He said that the decision came "sooner than I would have liked", but that it was not an act of petulance.

EXPERIENCED

However, Mr Rabbitte last night said that he will not move aside, citing the fact that experienced hands are just as important as new blood.

"It's very important young people come through the system," said Mr Rabbitte. "It's also very important that experienced people are in place.

"I'd very much like to see through the work we have underway here."

Tomorrow afternoon, the next leader of the Labour party will be announced and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, is widely expected to win the leadership battle against Alex White.

Once elected, Ms Burton she will immediately enter talks with Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the new cabinet line up.

The most contentious issue between Labour and Fine Gael will be October's budget.

"She'd be reluctant to agree to a harsh budget. She'll be putting an emphasis on jobs and growth as opposed to austerity," said the senior Labour source.

During Ms Burton's hustings, she addressed the need to raise living standards and get the housing programme off the ground.

According to the source, "the budget constraints are going to be the biggest challenge for her."

However, Mr Kenny is not expecting to dominate her at the cabinet table.

"Enda will be very anxious to have a good working relationship with her, as he's that type of guy," said the source.

The Government is highly aware of the fact that the country has a "negative perception," of it.

"They know that there's a negative perception about the Coalition that they're hell-bent on austerity."

jfegan@herald.ie

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