herald

Monday 18 December 2017

White is still in line for Labour Cabinet post

New Tainaiste Joan Burton.
New Tainaiste Joan Burton.

Defeated Labour leadership candidate Alex White could yet make it into Cabinet, because Joan Burton is sacking three of her Dublin ministers.

It is certain that Eamon Gilmore, Pat Rabbitte and Ruairi Quinn, who are all Dublin based, will be dropped, meaning Ms Burton has to promote Mr White for geographical reasons.

The new Tanaiste, Ms Burton, will meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Government Buildings to begin discussions on a Cabinet reshuffle and the prioritisation of policies.

Negotiations have taken place between Mr Kenny's economic advisor Andrew McDowell and Ms Burton's incoming chief of staff Ed Brophy throughout the weekend.

Ms Burton sent a dossier outlining the priorities that Labour wants to see refocused in Government to Mr Kenny.

"In terms of the policy stuff, Fine Gael are not frightened by what we are asking for," said one Labour source.

But, the allocation of ministries was last expected to be the area of greatest conflict between the two sides.

Mr Kenny is eyeing up the Education position for Fine Gael, and the Tánaiste wants an extra Cabinet post for the Labour Party in their Coalition talks which begin this morning.

Measures

Among the Labour demands are a second year of free childcare for 65,000 children, the jobs portfolio and measures to ease the tax burden on low- and middle-income families.

It was suggested last night that Ms Burton is not prepared to continue to honour agreements made by her predecessor Eamon Gilmore, but is seeking to "start again" when it comes to ministerial portfolios.

At the moment, Fine Gael has 10 Cabinet positions and Labour five.

In an opening position, Ms Burton is to seek a sixth portfolio for Labour from Mr Kenny as she believes her predecessor, Eamon Gilmore, "left something behind" in the original coalition talks.

"The view is there has to be an obvious win," a Labour source said.

Mr White is expected to be elevated alongside Labour Deputy leader Alan Kelly and junior health minister Kathleen Lynch.

hnews@herald.ie

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