FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny has bluntly admitted he never bothered to contact four of his internal opponents to tell them they would not be re-appointed to the party front bench.
Mr Kenny announced his new shadow cabinet and found a place for Richard Bruton, who had been sacked last month after launching an ultimately unsuccessful heave against the leader.
Mr Kenny also restored four senior figures who had backed Mr Bruton – Simon Coveney, Fergus O’Dowd, Charlie Flanagan and Leo Varadkar.
But he found no place for another four former frontbenchers and Bruton supporters – Brian Hayes, Denis Naughten, Olivia Mitchell and Michael Creed.
And in a sign that tensions still remain, Mr Kenny admitted he hadn’t bothered to ring the four in advance to notify them.
But he dismissed suggestions the overlooked rebels would be waiting “in the long grass” to get him.
“There is no long grass. It was all cut a couple of weeks ago,” Mr Kenny said.
The big winner was former party leader Michael Noonan, who returned to frontline politics after an eight-year absence.
Mr Noonan assumes the finance portfolio from Mr Bruton, who has been demoted to the enterprise role. The move means Mr Noonan is now in poll position to be finance minister if Fine Gael wins the next election.
The other big winner was Dr James Reilly, who remains as health spokesman but has been appointed deputy leader in return for supporting Mr Kenny in the heave.
Mr Bruton, meanwhile, admitted his return to the frontbench could be seen as hypocritical, given that he had made clear his lack of confidence in Mr Kenny’s leadership last month.
But he insisted yesterday that he was now “fully confident” in Mr Kenny.
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