Jobs portfolio at centre of Coalition tensions

Coalition tensions ahead of the attempted relaunch of the Government continued to centre on which party would win the prized Jobs portfolio in Cabinet.

Fine Gael appeared to play hard ball for the key economic role, insisting it would need the Education Department as well as the EU commissionership in exchange for what has become increasingly seen as the “good news” post in Government.

With Taoiseach Enda Kenny set to have his first face-to-face meeting with Tánaiste Joan Burton today both sides were scrambling to hammer out the new cabinet face for the Coalition.

With talk of Richard Bruton being moved to the crisis-ridden health department, it appeared ambitious Fine Gaeler Leo Varadkar could be reined in at the Transport department.

A senior Fine Gael source saw this as punishment by Mr Kenny for Mr Varadkar’s role in the chain of events which led to the resignation of former justice minister Alan Shatter in May which plunged the Government into turmoil.

Labour Party deputy leader Alan Kelly insisted there would be a swap in portfolios between the two parties as he remained favourite to take on the Jobs role if the Taoiseach trades it away.

A split of the Jobs and Enterprise role was being considered by both sides without much enthusiasm.

“I believe that everything is up for discussion. I believe there will be change. I believe there will be change in portfolios across the parties. But it is not just about bodies in seats, it is priorities for the Government — the policies, the decisions we want,” the Labour deputy leader said.

Ms Burton, who has exchanged policy documents with Mr Kenny, said her focus for the first meeting with Mr Kenny was to refocus Government action to help the low paid, boost housing and improve equality.


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