Taoiseach Enda Kenny rules out ‘grand coalition’

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has ruled out any prospect of a Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil ‘grand coalition’ government in time for the Civil War commemorations after the next general election.

Mr Kenny dismissed any such move as he insisted there are no plans to jettison poorly performing ministers next year.

Mr Kenny said he wants Ireland to address the centenaries of the Civil War and War of Independence “very sensitively” when they take place between 2019 and 2023.

Saying the “raw period” should be approached in a “mature and reflective way”, he rejected any possibility of the two parties most closely linked to that era formally entering government together after any general election. “I don’t see a coming together of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as a combined unit,” said Mr Kenny.

He said he will not jettison poorly performing ministers as part of a cabinet reshuffle next year, despite concerns over the suitability of a number of key people to their roles.

Mr Kenny rejected any possibility of a reshuffle taking place in the immediate future, saying he is pleased with the achievements of his cabinet colleagues.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Kenny was asked whether he believes the planned handover of the position of junior minister for public works between Independent Alliance TDs Seán Canney and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran would be an appropriate time for a broader reshuffle.

Despite criticism of several TDs over their performances to date — including Transport Minister Shane Ross, Skills Minister John Halligan, and Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor — Mr Kenny insisted no further changes are planned.

“I’m suggesting to you that there certainly won’t be any reshuffle this year and I’m not giving consideration to it in May either,” he said.

The comment is likely to calm concerns within the higher ranks of the Fine Gael-Independent Alliance Coalition, with a number of ministers coming under pressure in recent months to explain their performance in Government to date.

It also means backbenchers who believe they were overlooked after the last election will not be given higher roles, potentially leading to a fresh wave of internal opposition to Mr Kenny’s leadership.

In recent months a number of ministers have been the subject of intense public scrutiny after a series of difficulties in their roles in Government.

Among the most notable incidents have been those involving Ms Mitchell O’Connor’s achievements in bringing investment into Ireland, Mr Ross’s limited budget announcements, and Mr Halligan’s repeated criticisms of Fine Gael.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny has dismissed criticism of the amount of legislation being passed by the current Government, arguing that the level of new rules enacted will not necessarily define whether his Coalition is a success.

Asked about the limited amount of legislation passed to date and claims the Dáil is stagnating due to the Government’s dependence on opposition parties to support laws, Mr Kenny said “legislation does not necessarily make good government”.

Questioned on whether a general election may be called next year in a bid to address underlying difficulties in the Coalition, Mr Kenny said he does not expect any to take place.

“I do not see an election at all in the very foreseeable future. We have a three-year confidence and supply agreement with the Fianna Fáil party, with a review at the end of 2018,” he said.

“The last thing on my mind is the thought of a general election.”


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