Junior ministers and where the axe might fall

TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has promised a symbolic cull of junior ministers.

But who is safe and which ministers are in trouble?

Here are the options:

Dick Roche - European Affairs

As far as the Government is concerned he is Mr Europe. With Lisbon II still to come the Taoiseach will want him to counter the no camp.

John McGuinness - Trade and commerce

The only junior to stand up and say his brief was important enough to avoid any cut.

Others volunteered their roles for dismissal.

An ally of Brian Cowen, his departure would be a shock.

Trevor Sargent - Food

The Green Party will lose a junior minister this year but only an imaginary one.

It had been promised a second position half way through the term but this is impossible and keeping its existing role will be its reward.

Conor Lenihan - Integration policy

An established junior prone to gaffes. But from a constituency where Fianna Fáil is exposed to Sinn Féin it needs more than two backbenchers. His job may go but he should move on.

Billy Kelleher - Labour Affairs

With Tánaiste Mary Coughlan appearing

shaky he was a

combative deputy.

His job increased in importance in the recession and the experience of the last year will stand to him. But does Cork need two ministers and one junior?

Seán Haughey - Life-long learning

Promoted in 2007 after a long lobbying campaign. His profile has been low, his brief limited and with Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe first to volunteer to make budget cuts in his department, his role will be targeted.

Máire Hoctor - Older People

Despite sitting in a constituency with only one Fianna Fáil seat, the party still out polled every other party significantly so its one seat is safe. With a new portfolio it is hard to argue her case.

Martin Mansergh - Office of Public Works

He has been weak in his brief. At a time when his line manager, Brian Linehan, has been under fire he did not take on the fight.

He was among those who volunteered cuts in the junior ranks and could put up little argument if he was asked to shuffle off.

Mary Wallace - Food safety

She had a chance to shine during the pork dioxin crisis but was anonymous.

On gender grounds it is hard to see her and Hoctor both losing out.


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