Kenny breaks election pledge by not cutting junior ministers

ENDA KENNY has broken his first major election promise by appointing 15 junior ministers and not reducing this tier of Government by three posts.

He appointed nine of his own TDs and six members of the Labour Party, helping to quell disquiet among senior figures in both parties who were overlooked for senior posts.

The party said the decision to pluck 15 TD from the backbenches had emerged following talks on the make-up of the new Government.

In Brussels last night, Mr Kenny said: “We put out a programme two years ago, that wasn’t included in our own particular programme for this election and is not included in our Programme for Government.

“We’ve looked at the Programme for Government we have put together with the Labour party, it’s a big programme. It does require people to implement it. We’ve started by reducing ministerial salaries. We’re looking at the question of the State cars and the amount of people and personnel employed in ministerial offices and constituency offices and we continue to do that.”

When in opposition Fine Gael had prepared private members’ legislation to cap the amount of ministers of state at 12. However, yesterday Mr Kenny appointed the same number as the outgoing Government and it emerged the issue was never broached in talks between Fine Gael and Labour.

The Fine Gael press secretary said it had gone into the election with a promise to reduce the number of junior ministries.

However, this fact was left out of the Programme for Government after the talks.

The Labour Party said the issue was not debated by the programme’s negotiators.

“It is my understanding it did not come up at all in the negotiations,” the party’s spokesman said.

In Brussels, Mr Kenny said: “The impact of Fine Gael and Labour in Government is clearly evinced by the reduction in the number of people travelling abroad for St Patrick’s Day. These are business-like meetings in the interest of Ireland and they’re not going to be seen in any way as holidays or leisure time, they’re strictly to promote Ireland, our business interests abroad, promote the rebuilding of our damaged reputation internationally.”

Apart from the Government chief whip, Paul Kehoe, and the “super junior” housing minister, Willie Penrose, Mr Kenny handed the most high-profile post to Brian Hayes. Mr Hayes will take responsibility for the Office of Public Works despite playing a lead role in the attempt to oust Mr Kenny as party leader last year.

His fellow rebels, Fergus O’Dowd and Lucinda Creighton were also appointed. Mr Kenny’s Mayo colleague, Micheal Ring, was given the junior brief for tourism and sport after having missed out on a senior role.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore sought to counter allegations of sexism in his Cabinet choices by appointing three women: Roisin Shortall, Jan O’Sullivan and Kathleen Lynch.

He also selected Sean Sherlock for the research and innovation role and former MEP Alan Kelly for the public transport portfolio.

Ms Shortall will have the new responsibility for Primary Care in the Department of Health.

Labour said this function was not created to offset problems potentially arising because of Health Minister James Reilly’s former role as the lead lobbyist for GPs.

Dr Reilly was president of the Irish Medical Organisation and will have to negotiate a new regime for promised free GP care. Ms Shortall has been given responsibility for delivering on this election promise.

The Juniors:

PAUL KEHOE

Fine Gael - Government chief whip

THIS was a role Mr Kehoe coveted, despite arguments for him to be rewarded with his own department. Elected from Wexford, despite hostility from its powerful patron Avril Doyle, he could have an easier job than his predecessor.

WILLIE PENROSE

Labour Party - Housing and Planning

HE was left scratching his head when he was handed his portfolio and had to seek clarity on what he would actually do. A barrister by trade he will sit at Cabinet but cannot vote.

DINNY MCGINLEY

Fine Gael - Gaeltacht Affairs

AFTER seeing off former tánaiste, Mary Coughlan, in Donegal, word slipped out earlier in the week that Mr McGinley was guaranteed a junior post. A constituency-friendly portfolio, it allows him to oversee bodies such as Udarás na Gaeltachta, which plays a key jobs role in Donegal.

ROISÍN SHORTALL

Labour Party - Primary Care

IT was no secret Ms Shortall thought she had done enough to have earned a senior portfolio. She was an unforgiving member of the public accounts committee, a sharp critic of Government policy and the architect of the party’s two-seat haul in Dublin north west. She was elbowed out and instead takes over the roll-out of free primary care within a department where the minister would have to deal with accusations he is too cosy with doctors to take them on.

JOHN PERRY

Fine Gael - Small Business

THE quietly spoken Sligo-north Leitrim deputy effectively created a portfolio and established himself as enough of a brand to make him the only TD likely to fill it. Spoke of difficulties of small business and developed policy on it.

JAN O’SULLIVAN

Labour Party - Trade & Development

THE Limerick City TD takes over the junior Foreign Affairs gig from FF’s Peter Power, who failed to get re-elected from the same constituency. It is some consolation given she was tipped for a higher rank. The department’s satellite HQ is based in her own city, which will help her keep an eye on her seat.

LUCINDA CREIGHTON

Fine Gael - European Affairs

BECAUSE of the fractious relationship between Ms Creighton and her party’s leadership, Enda Kenny would probably have overlooked her if he could get away with it. However, she has a strong media profile, would make a dangerous back-bench enemy, has a successful record and the trophy second seat in Dublin south east.

FERGUS O’DOWD

Fine Gael - New ERA project

HE was disappointed to be left out when 10 Fine Gael TDs were asked to sit at Cabinet. One of FG’s most effective performers he remains a left-leaning voice in a right-of-centre party. He will be tasked with delivering the standout policy plank of FG’s manifesto, sell off state assets and generate 100,000 jobs.

SHANE McENTEE

Fine Gael - Food, Horticulture and Food Safety

A FIERCELY loyal supporter of Enda Kenny who appeared to take the mutiny against his leader more personally than most. Despite his gregarious and non-partisan, nature, is likely to clash with coalition colleagues on issues like the Ward Union stag hunt, which he supports.

MICHAEL RING

Fine Gael - Tourism and Sport

A DISAPPOINTED co-constituent of Enda Kenny he has had a troubled relationship with the party leader but bit his tongue and had expected to be rewarded with a senior ministry. His off-the-cuff oration skills and down-to-earth nature have made him a media favourite.

It will no doubt grate on Mr Ring to be answering to senior minister, Leo Varadkar — a young pretender who rebelled against his leader and was still rewarded.

KATHLEEN LYNCH

Labour Party - Disability, Equality & Mental Health

NO ONE will dispute that her political record makes Ms Lynch one of the more deserving new ministers of state. Ms Lynch has rarely put a foot wrong.

However, her name slipped under the radar in recent speculation on possible promotions. This was perhaps a symptom of her low-key style and the more high-profile presence of her namesake, Ciarán Lynch, in the neighbouring Cork south central constituency.

BRIAN HAYES

Fine Gael - Public Service Reform and the Office of Public Works

MICHAEL NOONAN trusted the Dublin south west deputy as his number two when he was finance spokesman and he obviously wanted to have him at his side in the Department of Finance.

The move represents a slight act of forgiveness on the part of Enda Kenny after Mr Hayes orchestrated the attempted coup in Fine Gael last summer.

SEAN SHERLOCK

Labour Party - Research and Innovation

IF there were two extra places at Cabinet the young Cork east deputy would probably have got a seal of office on Wednesday night.

In the last Dáil, he was a fresher face in a party with a problematically old parliamentary contingent.

He per formed well as agriculture spokesman despite these issues traditionally not featuring strongly in the Labour Party’s priorities.

ALAN KELLY

Labour Party - Public and Commuter Transport

IF anybody ever doubted Mr Kelly’s argument for a promotion the man himself certainly did not.

After winning a seat in the European Parliament he went on to carve out a niche in Tipperary north. Most likely he would have preferred an agriculture-related portfolio having focused a lot on this area within his party.

CIARÁN CANNON

Fine Gael - Training and Skills

UP to now his most high-profile position was leading the Progressive Democrats in the final days of their demise.

However, Fine Gael signed him up when he was still in the Seanad and set about rehabilitating him into one of their own.

Geographically — he was elected from Galway east — Mr Cannon was well-placed to win an immediate elevation because he was the most senior Government TD in an entirely fresh field from both halves of the county.

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