Noonan set for FG frontbench return

MICHAEL NOONAN is expected to return to the Fine Gael frontbench as finance spokesman when party leader Enda Kenny announces his new shadow cabinet today.

But all eyes will be on Richard Bruton, who was sacked as finance spokesman and deputy leader after launching an unsuccessful heave against Mr Kenny.

Mr Bruton is being tipped for a return to the frontbench but in a less senior role, with speculation that he may get the enterprise or education portfolio. However, Fine Gael remained tight-lipped last night, with one source saying Mr Kenny was keeping the line-up to himself. He is expected to unveil the line-up at a press conference in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel at 2.30pm. A source close to Mr Kenny last night said Mr Bruton’s recent comments on party unity had been “helpful”.

In a blogpost on his website, Mr Bruton said that, in order for Fine Gael to move on, the party “must be seen to utilise all its talent... regardless of which side they took in the recent debate”.

That has been taken as a sign by some that Mr Bruton is willing to serve again under Mr Kenny – despite saying it would be “hypocritical” to do in the midst of the heave.

But nowhere in the blog does Mr Bruton express confidence in Mr Kenny or even refer to him by name.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny has said he is prepared to accept the IRA army council is no more. The Fine Gael leader had a high-profile spat with Sinn Féin during a visit to the North last month when he questioned whether the army council had ever been stood down.

But speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Mr Kenny said he was prepared to accept a Sinn Féin statement to him stating that it was no more.

Mr Kenny was speaking in the Dáil regarding the Saville report. The Dáil passed a motion welcoming it, remembering all those killed on Bloody Sunday and commending the families’ campaign for the truth.


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