Creighton says EU post not ‘political football’

A former Fine Gael minister has suggested that Ireland’s EU Commissioner nominee should be scrutinised by the Oireachtas so the position is not used as "a political football" between the Coalition.

The proposal comes as Labour’s Joan Burton is expected to win her party’s leadership vote today.

She will then begin talks with Enda Kenny over the coming days on the Cabinet reshuffle and a renewed programme for government.

Coalition sources last night confirmed that a number of changes are expected on the Fine Gael side while Ms Burton is likely to replace at least three ministers.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn already said this week that he would be resigning while new ministers are also expected in Foreign Affairs and Communications.

However, a swap of portfolios between the parties is also being discussed.

Mr Kenny and Ms Burton have not yet had any face-to-face talks on the make up of the new Cabinet.

Health Minister James Reilly yesterday said he did not know if he would still be in his department next week. “He [the Taoiseach] has always made it very clear that he would make a decision that would best serve the people.”

Sources in both parties say it is likely Environment Minster Phil Hogan will be Ireland’s nominee for an EU Commissioner post.

Former European Affairs Minister Lucinda Creighton said yesterday that the position should not be used as a way of getting someone out of Cabinet or to “offer someone a sweetener”.

She said that the nominee should go through an appointments process and possibly should be scrutinised by the Oireachtas. Legislation for such a move is planned by her and other Independent TDs.

“The spectre of the European Commission nominee for Ireland being used as some sort of leverage in the determination of cabinet jobs is galling. It is not a political football.

“In every country in Europe, jockeying for the Commission nomination takes place, but we are the only country who is actually using it as negotiation ploy for domestic cabinet ministerial positions,” added the Dublin South East TD.

Meanwhile, Labour member votes will be counted today in Dublin city centre for the positions of leader and deputy leader.

Ms Burton and junior minister Alex White are competing to succeed Eamon Gilmore as Tánaiste, TDs Michael McCarthy, Sean Sherlock, Ciara Conway and Alan Kelly are competing for the deputy role.

A result for the leader count is expected after 3pm.


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