Taoiseach Enda Kenny has revealed he is to reshuffle his Cabinet ministers in the second half of next year.
With speculation rife that the Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, may move from the Department of Foreign Affairs to a more domestic role, the Taoiseach said he wants to ensure that talented TDs are given opportunities to climb the ranks.
“That is a matter that I have to turn my attention to. I would expect that some time in 2014 you will see some movement there,” Mr Kenny said.
He compared a Cabinet reshuffle to “when the man appears on the sideline with the numbers flashing”.
He said this would get under way most likely in the second half of 2014.
There are 15 Government departments, which are led by the Taoiseach and 14 Cabinet ministers.
They are supported by 15 ministers of state.
When the Fine Gael and Labour coalition took office in 2011 there had been 21 ministers of state, which the Taoiseach decided to scale down.
“Obviously we reduced that number considerably,” Mr Kenny said.
“If things were different you might be inclined to say well, you know you could give opportunities to others but we made that decision and clearly I’d like to think that the talent that is there in the benches would be given its opportunity to serve and give vent to their flair.”
He said there are some “very talented people” right across the Oireachtas in the backbenches.
He said while it is difficult in a government situation for people to get the opportunities they want and the privilege to serve, the backbenches are full of “outstanding talent”.
“Yes, I certainly would like to see that people who work very hard and who show real ability should be given the chance to demonstrate that,” the Taoiseach said.
He would not be specific as to whether the reshuffle would take place right after the local and European elections in June, but insisted it will happen in due course.
Commenting on the news, the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, said "I'm happy to serve in whatever capacity I'm asked to serve in."
"A reshuffle is a very important point in the life of any Government … most departments of Government have been undergoing a lot of reform."