herald

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Rabbitte and Quinn 'for axe in reshuffle'

Former Labour Party leader Ruairi Quinn
Former Labour Party leader Ruairi Quinn
Former Labour Party leaders Pat Rabbitte

FORMER Labour leaders Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte are facing the axe in next year's Cabinet reshuffle.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has fired a warning shot to the veteran ministers as he looks to freshen up his frontbench ahead of the next General Election.

A reshuffle is expected by the end of next summer when the Government will also select a new European Commissioner.

Ahead of the Labour Party national conference, Mr Gilmore admitted for the first time there will be "changes in the membership of the Government" and pointed out he has "very talented" figures available in the party.

"I think pretty well in every Government that has gone full term there have been some changes in the membership of the Government and in the positions that members of the Government hold.

"And I expect that that will be the same in the lifetime of this Government, but we haven't yet discussed that or considered it," he said.

Mr Gilmore distinguishing between changes in the "membership" of Government and swapping positions clearly denotes there will be switches in personnel at Cabinet level.

Labour members are gathering in Killarney for the three-day conference, where the party will seek to revive its lagging fortunes.

Mr Gilmore will put the focus on providing relief for hard-pressed working families.

BACKBONE

Education Minister Quinn and Communications Minister Rabbitte are being tipped by Labour insiders for the axe in the reshuffle. Housing Minister Jan O'Sullivan is similarly in the firing line.

Mr Gilmore, Joan Burton and Brendan Howlin are going nowhere and will remain the party's backbone in the Cabinet.

Mr Quinn is frequently linked with the European Commissioner's post but this is regarded as Fine Gael's to refuse.

Within Labour, there is widespread speculation Mr Rabbitte will retire and be replaced on the party ticket by junior minister Alex White in the Dublin South-West constituency.

Likewise, Mr Quinn is expected to be replaced by his nephew, Dublin Mayor Oisin Quinn.

The possible removal of half of Labour's representatives at the Cabinet table would tee up three positions for the party to put in younger faces.

Mr White and Kathleen Lynch, both junior health ministers, are being tipped for promotion, with young guns Sean Sherlock and Alan Kelly also battling it out. Junior minister Joe Costello is also being linked with being dropped from the ministerial ranks.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Taoiseach Enda Kenny will travel to Japan next week to explore potential areas for future collaboration between the two countries.

He will spend two days in Tokyo and then travel to Nagoya and Osaka to meet with Irish and Japanese business leaders to promote trade, investment and business-to-business links.

kdoyle@herald.ie

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